The Dujiangyan Dam Controversy

From 21 Century Business Herald Tribune, summary translation by CDT:

A group of academics and scientists have made every effort to protect one of the country’s mother rivers, to no avail.

A branch of the Min River, the Baitiao is one of the major water supply arteries serving Chengdu. Now the tributary faces a significant threat. The Dujiang Yan Management Authority has just released a “Baitiao River development integrated planning Report,” which proposes development along 44.76 km of the river, including 15 cascading hydroelectric power plants with a total installed capacity of over 10 million kilowatts. The plan is not only to generate electricity, but also to attract tourism, real estate, sand, and other industries. According to the report, investment in the comprehensive development will exceed RMB 1 billion (USD 125 million).


In November 2005, Dujiang Yan Water Industry Group Limited and a Hong Kong company set up the joint-venture Baitiao River Integrated Development Co. The company aims to pursue massive real estate and tourism development on the Baotiao. Tentative plans call for a series of five-star hotels, four ecological parks and a major channel drift tourism project.

“The idea of constructing multi-stage cascading power plants on a plain does not conform with basic scientific principles,” said Zhao Wenqian, the Vice-chairman of the Provincial Institute of Water. “An accident happens at the Gate Dam could cause a chain reaction, leading to serious consequences.”

Ai Lanshan, a professor at Sichuan University and president of the Chengdu City River Institute was aslo critical. “Flood control problems are only one of the hidden dangers involved in building hydro power stations on the Baitiao,” Professor Ai said told this reporter. “Impeded water flow and pollution are also major concerns.”

The Baitiao River is already home to 10 power plants, all located upstream of the No. 6 Chengdu City Tap Water Facility, the city’s core water supply enterprise. The facility has a daily water supply capacity of 1 million tons, used by the more than 40 million people living in Chengdu and surrounding areas. According to Ai Lanshan, the Dujiang Yan Management Authority, facing numerous questions over problems with the extant in the second half of 2006, did not respond positively.

“Chengdu now a water-shortage city.” Ai said. “Even problems with source water at Dujiang Yan itself have yet to be resolved. With this new project, the Baitiao risks becoming a waterless river.”

In August 2006, Sichuan Provincial CPPCC Vice-Chairman Nie XiuXiang, along with other Sichuan Provincial CPPCC members and scientists, issued a statement outlining major defects in the dam building plans and called for “careful treatment of Baitiao River development projects.”

Not until August of this year did the Dujiang Yan Authority agree to meet with scientists who opposed the Baitiao River project. At that meeting, the authority clearly stated its intention to continue building hydro power stations on Baotiao River and insisted everything it was doing was legal.

And so the Baitiao controversy continues…

See the original in Chinese here

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