More DAMaging Evidence!

Monday March 22, 10:19 pm Eastern Time

More than one third of China's dams
"time bombs"

BEIJING, March 23 (Reuters) - More than one third of
China's dams are old or poorly built "time bombs'' which
must be repaired by 2010, the China Daily said on Tuesday.

It said the government plans to reinforce 33,000 dams by
2010 at an estimated cost of 33 billion yuan ($3.9 billion).

China has 84,800 reservoirs -- the most in the world -- but many were built quickly
between 1957 and 1979 and were potentially dangerous, the newspaper quoted a
Ministry of Water Resources official as saying.

Officials hoped that local authorities would rebuild defective dams and make reconstruction
a top investment priority, the newspaper said.

It said quoted experts as describing them as "time bombs'' and said the ministry also
proposed setting a special fund to repair them.

But water experts were worried by the lack of money and difficulty of raising huge funds at
such short notice, the newspaper said.

Faulty reservoirs have caused some of China's worst disasters in the past, with 20,000
people drowned in 1975 after a dam collapsed in the central province of Hunan, it said.
(The International Rivers Network has estimated the actual casualties of this dam burst at between 80,000 to 230,000.)

The newspaper said 3,200 dams had failed since 1949, when the Communist Party won
power after a long civil war. But it said the rate of failure had fallen after the mid-1980s
when Beijing injected billions of yuan into reinforcing 50 key reservoirs.

When the faulty dams were repaired they would provide water for one-third of China's
irrigation works and protect 25 percent of the population and land from floods, it said.

The tightly-controlled Chinese media has recently focused on the controversial Three
Gorges Dam, which threatens to become China's most explosive social problem as public
patience with the massive project dries up.

In a provocative expose, the conservative bimonthly Strategy and Management dissected
the government's programme to resettle millions of residents from the dam site, highlighting
widening cracks in public and official support for the effort.

The gargantuan dam on the Yangtze river is the world's largest hydroelectric project.

($1.0 equals 8.28 yuan)

World: Asia-Pacific

             Chinese dams damned

             By Duncan Hewitt in Beijing

             Thousands of Chinese dams have been described as "time bombs" by
             Chinese officials.

             They said more than one-third of the country's estimated 85,000 dams
             are defective and need urgent repairs.

             Experts at the Ministry of Water Resources, quoted by the official
             China Daily newspaper, said the dams could cause fatal floods

             They said some 33,000 dams were old and poorly built.

             The newspaper said the ministry was hoping for approval from the
             central authorities for as much as $4bn to carry out the repairs, but
             said it would be difficult to raise the money quickly.

             Quick fix solutions

             Concern about the safety of China's dams was highlighted during last
             year's disastrous floods, when at least 3,000 people died. Many of
             China's estimated dams are used to control the flow of rivers.

             The paper noted that many of the dams were built between the late
             1950s and 1970s, the period of Maoist political movements, when
             it said technological criteria were often ignored in favour of quick

             It said 3,200 dams had failed since China's communist revolution,
             one of the worst cases occurring in Henan Province in 1975 when two
             dams collapsed.

             The paper said 20,000 people drowned, though human rights groups
             quoting internal Chinese reports have said the figure was far higher.

             Risks not known

             The experts warned that many local officials were not fully aware of
             the risks posed by sub-standard reservoirs.

             The article follows unusually direct criticisms in official media of
             China's largest dam project, the giant Three Gorges hydro-electric
             dam currently under construction on the Yangtze.

             There have been reports of corruption connected to the project and
             one journal recently questioned the relocation of more than a million
             people to make way for the dam.

            Tuesday, March 16, 1999 Published at 17:36 GMT

            World: Asia-Pacific

         China dam faces cash flow crisis

             By Rob Gifford

             The authorities charged with managing construction of China's Three
             Gorges Dam have reported difficulties in financing the next stage of
             the massive hydro-electric project.

             The dam has been surrounded in controversy since building began in
             1993 and the report will give further ammunition to the project's many
             critics who say it is a waste of money and will do untold damage to
             the environment around the Yangtse River.

             The official Xinhua news agency reported that only ¥55bn ($6.6bn) of
             the ¥80bn required for the second phase has been found.

             The roughly $3bn shortfall will have to be raised through commercial
             bank loans and the issue of corporate bonds.

                                 Work on the second phase of the
                                 Three Gorges project from 1998 to
                                 the year 2003 now looks set to cost
                                 almost double the amount of the
                                 first phase, and some estimates put
                                 the final cost of the dam - due to be
                                 completed in the year 2009 - at
                                 roughly three times the original
                                 official estimate.

                                 When completed, the dam will be
                                 the largest hydro-electric project in
                                 the world. The Chinese Government
                                 also hopes that it will prevent the
                                 kind of flooding which has plagued
                                 the Yangtse for centuries and just
                                 last year caused the loss of
                                 thousands of lives.


             Chairman Mao supported the idea of damming the Yangtse in the
             1950s, but it was not until the 1990s under the guidance of then
             prime minister Li Peng that the first real work began.

             The project has not been short of critics, some of whom question the
             need for a dam at all. Others say that energy and flood control could
             have been provided by building lots of smaller dams along the

             Not only would this have cost less they say, but it would not have
             required the relocation of 1.2 million people to make way for the
             600km long reservoir that the dam will create.