As floods hit China, the Three Gorges Dam faces grave test

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi Published: Jul 21, 2020, 09:03 PM(IST)

A file photo of a dam in China. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

It was pitched as the solution for the yearly flooding of the Yangzi river but right from the time its construction began, the Three Gorges Dam has been taking lives.

The fury of nature in China is not new as out of the ten largest floods in the last century seven has been in China.

The Three Gorges Dam has been a story of a manmade disaster in China. Its birth had led to the flooding of 13 cities, 140 towns and 1,352 villages with a total of 1.3 million people displaced for the dam and now if the dam breaks it could take more lives.
 
China has built more than 80,000 and counting but none of them compares to the Three Gorges Dam. China shows it off as an engineering feat. However, the dam has been the root of many problems for the country. The dam has been controversial from the beginning. 

It was pitched as the solution for the yearly flooding of the Yangzi river but right from the time its construction began, the Three Gorges Dam has been taking lives.

The project came with a hefty price tag and the people of China have been paying for it with their money and their lives. The construction began in 1993, and the Three Gorges took 17 years to build.

China has admitted that more than 100 workers died during construction. On paper, the cost of the project was around $24 billion but critics say the actual cost was far more. The money, of course, came out of the taxpayer's kitty. There were protests against the dam but China paid no heed to it.

According to Human Rights Watch, China used the police to contain social unrest with critics denied platforms to voice their opposition as more than one million people were allegedly forced to resettle.

In 2007, Fu Xiuqiong, a Chinese citizen, found herself swamped as water began rising around her farm. The dam reservoir began filling and she was given no land as compensation nor did she have any money to relocate.

"Now, where we're located, it is extremely hard to survive. We are not able to leave, after the big migration, they didn't give us the land, we didn't get any of the money from the government," Fu Xiuqiong, resident on Three Gorges dam reservoir, said.

The Communist Party had its way with the dam but it regretted its decision later. In 2011, Beijing issued a rare admission - the Three Gorges Dam had caused a slew of urgent environmental, geological and economic problems.

According to a report, damming up too much water increased the frequency of earthquakes and high demand for water led to droughts. There was widespread contamination of Yangtze tributaries and lakes as copper, zinc, lead and ammonium was found in the water samples.

When it was pitched first, the Three Gorges was deemed necessary to power China’s industrial boom but, since the day the project began it has taken hundreds of lives and caused irreparable damage to nature.

Today, the floodwaters are testing the Three Gorges again and there are fears that it might collapse, if it does, the dam will trigger yet another catastrophe.

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