China's Water

China puts upper Yellow River dam plans on the fast track with feasibility study

The westward extension of the world’s largest water diversion project looks set to rock the “cradle of Chinese civilization”.

Report by Frank Tang for the South China Morning Post

A summarized version by Probe International of the full article by Frank Tang follows below

Plans to fast track a large and controversial hydropower station on the upper reaches of the “Mother River of China” (also referred to as the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilization) are set to accelerate with a feasibility study for the project, now currently underway.

The Heishanxia water conservancy project (aka Black Mountain Gorge) is slated to stand at the border of the Gansu and Ningxia provinces in northern China, and would include a 2.6 gigawatt hydropower station (Daliushu). The undertaking represents a key section of the country’s South-North Water Diversion Project, which aims to channel billions of cubic metres of water annually from China’s wetter south to its more arid northern regions.

Benefits of the Heishanxia project, say local authorities, include stable water supply and the blocking of silt that can raise river beds and increase flood risks, beyond boosting electricity supply.

The project also poses significant concerns for land and people. The creation of Heishanxia would risk submerging 6,400 ha. (15,814 acres) of arable land and would leave 73,000 residents homeless and forced to relocate. Impacts that may or may not warrant a project that would provide an installed power generation capacity of about one-tenth that of the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze. Estimates suggest only 14 percent of the country’s total land is arable.

The feasibility study is said to assess 15 aspects of the Heishanxia project, including land acquisition, relocation of residents, soil and water conservation, environmental impact and social stability factors. The study is expected to be completed by the end of August and would then require approval by various government ministries and the National Development and Reform Commission.

Approval procedures of infrastructure projects such as Heishanxia tend to be symbolic in China, with Beijing’s top leaders permitted the final say.

Read the full version of this article at the publisher’s website here

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