Officials have long stressed the dam’s benefits: a reduction (some say exaggerated) in flooding downstream; the generation of (very expensive) carbon-free power; and the creation of a 660km-long, navigation-friendly reservoir. The official press has largely ignored the many criticisms of the dam. The authorities have rapidly and sometimes brutally crushed protests by some of the more than 1.2m people moved from the reservoir area, and have often poorly compensated them. Allegations abound of resettlement funds lining officials’ pockets.
But in the past few months signs have emerged that, in parts of the government at least, the resolute optimism is wavering. China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, was a few days late in reporting Miaohe’s problem. When it did, it dutifully cited the official reassurance that there was little imminent risk of the slope’s collapse. But it later quoted an official as saying the rise and fall of the reservoir’s water level (it was lowered by 11 metres before the flood season began in the summer) had probably caused the tremble”just as experts had forewarned. Xinhua failed to report, however, that the risks will mount. [Full text]
[Image: Three Gorges Dam, via the Economist]