by RFI, May 20, 2011 –
The Three Gorges Dam in Hubei province, China. Wikimedia/Shizhao.
The Chinese government said on Wednesday that Three Gorges Dam has created social and environmental problems which must be “urgently” addressed.
Following a meeting of the State Council chaired by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, the government released a rare admission of the problems associated with the world’s largest hydroelectric dam.
“There are problems that must be urgently resolved in the smooth relocation of residents, ecological protection and preventing geological disasters,” the statement said.
It also said the dam had “impacted” shipping, irrigation and water supplies along the Yangtze River.
Critics have cited the social and environmental damage which the project has caused. The construction of the dam and reservoir displaced 1.4 million local residents.
The dam affects the habitats of rare species such as the giant panda, the Chinese tiger and the Siberian crane.
It is also located in a geologically active area and may increase the likelihood of landslides.
Construction began on the 15.8 billion euro dam in 1993 and it began to generate power in 2008.
Despite opposition from some environmentalists and displaced residents, the Chinese authorities have hailed the dam as a major source of clean energy power.
Xinhua news agency reported on Friday that operators of Three Gorges Dam are increasing the water flow through the dam to aid rice-growers hit by drought downstream.