Monday March 22, 10:19 pm Eastern Time
More than one third of China's
BEIJING, March 23 (Reuters) - More than one third
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
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)
Chinese dams damned
By Duncan Hewitt in Beijing
Thousands of Chinese dams have been described as "time bombs" by
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
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
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
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.