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Chinese Authorities plan to move controversial dam to Tibetan area

December 24, 2007

Phayul
Friday, December 21, 2007

Heeding to rare public outcry, the Yunnan provincial government has
decided to scrap a controversial plan to dam the famed Tiger Leaping
Gorge and the local media have been told not to report the scrapping of
the ambitious dam proposal.


Dharamsala, December 21: The Yunnan Provincial Government has decided to
scrap the controversial plan to dam the famed Tiger Leaping Gorge, a
canal on the Yangtze River, after strong local opposition and
international concern.

Breaking a long silence over the fate of the project, the provincial
government reached a decision on Sunday that no dam would be built at
the gorge, one of the deepest river canyons in the world and close to a
World Heritage site, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported Thursday.

Instead, authorities now plan to move the dam 200km upstream to a
Tibetan-populated area bordering Weixi and Deqin counties in Diqing
(Dechen in Tibetan).

The new location, which had yet to be chosen from three options
available, is expected to displace some 20,000 people; SCMP reported
sources as saying. And among those likely to be affected would be mostly
Tibetans of the region.

Meanwhile, villagers who are now relieved by the scrapping of the
controversial dam plan, which they had strongly opposed in a rare show
of defiance against the powerful electricity developers and
development-minded local authorities, have welcome the decision, SCMP
reported.

Villagers' opposition has attracted widespread attention since 2004.
They even sent a petition letter to Beijing last year protesting against
the damming of the gorge.

More than 100,000 residents, mostly farmers from ethnic minorities in
Shangri-la and Yulong counties, would have been evicted to make way for
the Tiger Leaping Gorge dam project.

The proposed damming on the Jinsha River (as the river is locally
called) at the Tiger Leaping Gorge has been shelved since 2004 following
a rare public outcry. The 276-metre-high dam at the gorge that could
generate 88.3 billion kWh of electricity a year was also aimed at
diverting water from the Jinsha River to the centre of the province,
including the provincial capital, Kunming.

According to the report, the prolonged debate over the proposed dam is
said to have seriously disrupted the local economy and people's
livelihoods. The proposed project is also related to the Three Gorges
Dam and the South-North Water Transfer Project, both of which are
causing, or will cause, massive environmental damage and the destruction
of thousands of cultural heritage sites.

The SCMP report said the Central Government of China has deliberately
maintained an ambiguous stance on the fate of the gorge although it was
highly concerned about its "irreparable damage" to the local environment
and the unique culture of the ethnic minorities.

“Muzzled in its reporting of the controversial project over the past two
years, local media have been told not to report the scrapping of the dam
proposal,” SCMP noted.
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