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Chinese Authorities plan to move controversial dam to Tibetan area
Phayul[Friday, December 21, 2007 16:35]
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.

Terraces part way up the sides of the worlds deepest gorge, the Tiger Leaping Gorge. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Terraces part way up the sides of the worlds deepest gorge, the Tiger Leaping Gorge. (Photo: Wikipedia)
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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