Three Gorges and Nu River Dams - University of Kentucky

Three Gorges and Nu River Dams - University of Kentucky

Three Gorges and Nu River Dams Impact and Issues in Chinese Development Dams and The Drive to Develop One of the most common features in the drive to development is the construction of riverine dams

Purposes are usually threefold: hydroelectricity, irrigation and flood prevention But costs are huge and displacement of settlements is often significant Environmental considerations also abound The Location of Three Gorges Dam on Yangtze River

Height: 181 meters Expected investment: 203.9 billion renmimbi (US$24.65 billion) Number of migrants: 1.13 million Installed power generation capacity: 18.2 million kilowatts Functions: Flood control, power generation, improved navigation 1993-1997: The Yangtze River was diverted after four

years in November 1997 1998-2003: The first batch of generators will begin to generate power in 2003 and a permanent ship lock is scheduled to open for navigation the same year. 2004-2009: The entire project is to be completed by 2009 when all 26 generators will be able to generate power. History Dam on Yangtze first proposed by Sun Yat Sen in 1919

The idea resurfaced in 1963 as part of the new policies to build a "third front" of industry in southwest China. But Cultural Revolution erupted in 1966, and in 1969 the fear that the dam would be sabotaged by the Soviet Union, now an enemy, resulted in a construction delay. The economic reforms introduced in 1978 underlined the need for more electric power to supply a growing industrial base, so the State Council approved the construction in 1979

Criticisms Cost The dam will far exceed the official cost estimate, and the investment will be unrecoverable as cheaper power sources become available and lure away ratepayers Resettlement Relocated people are worse off than before and their human rights are being violated Environment Water pollution and deforestation will increase, the coastline will be eroded and the altered ecosystem will further endanger many species.

Local Culture The reservoir will flood many historical sites and ruin the legendary scenery of the gorges and the local tourism industry Navigation Heavy siltation will clog ports within a few years and negate improvements to navigation. Power Gen Technological advancements have made hydrodams obsolete, and a decentralized energy market will allow ratepayers to switch to cheaper, cleaner power supplies Flood Control Siltation will decrease flood storage capacity, the dam will not prevent floods on tributaries, and more effective flood control solutions are available.

Positives Cost The dam is within budget, and updating the transmission grid will increase demand for its electricity and allow the dam to pay for itself Resettlement 15 million people downstream will be better off due to electricity and flood control. Environment Hydroelectric power is cleaner than coal burning and safer than nuclear plants, and steps will be taken to protect the environment Culture Many historical relics are being moved, and the scenery will

not change that much Navigation Shipping will become faster, cheaper and safer as the rapid waters are tamed and ship locks are installed. Power Gen The alternatives are not viable yet and there is a huge potential demand for the relatively cheap hydroelectricity The huge flood storage capacity will lessen the frequency of major floods. The risk that the dam will increase flooding is remote Flood Control The huge flood storage capacity will lessen the frequency of major floods. The risk that the dam will increase flooding is remote

Nu River Dam in Yunnan Still another dam up river in Yunnan province Smaller scale but more sensitive because it involves ethnic minorities especially Tibetans

A horse grazed near a generating plant on the Nu River that is to be supplemented by a much bigger project. An ethnic Tibetan woman in the village of Dimaluo, up in the mountains, where a dam is being built on a tributary that flows

from a glacier. Twenty families will need to move to higher ground. Members of the Lisu ethnic group crossing the Nu on a rickety suspension bridge that connects a village on one side of the river with a main road on the other. In a rice field, a man helped a grandson roll up his

sleeves. A proposed dam project would force the relocation of as many as 50,000 people A woman in Yonglaga, a village of about 200 people on the coveted level land by the riverbank. Most villagers have no idea where the dams are to be built or whether their village will have to move. The 2,400 villagers in Dimaluo are divided

among Lisu, Nu and Tibetans, many of whom live in wooden shacks where dirt pits are built on the wood floors so that fires can be lighted for cooking and heat. Alou, an ethnic Tibetan who has been critical of the

dams, said officials had promised that the dams would create jobs and provide more electricity, but he is skeptical In early February, the switchback trails slicing up the mountains above the Nu in Yunnan were filled with villagers lugging pieces of roofing to mend their houses.

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