Thursday, November 6, 2008

Three Gorges Project Started Rerouting the River

Rerouting of Yangtze RiverOn November 6, 1997, Three Gorges Project entered the stage of Yangtze River rerouting. The rerouting of Yangtze River is a symbol of first stage project's victory.

The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric river dam that spans the Yangtze River in Sandouping, Yichang, Hubei, China. It is the largest hydro-electric power station in the world. Except the ship lift, all the original plan of the project was completed on Oct. 30, 2008, when the 26th generator was brought to commerical operation. Six additional generators in the underground power plant are being installed, with the dam thus not expected to become fully operational until about 2012. The total electric generating capacity of the dam will reach 22,500 MW.

As with many dams, there is a debate over costs and benefits. Although there are economic benefits such as flood control, clean hydroelectricity and navigation, there are also concerns about the relocation of people, siltation, loss of archaeological and cultural sites and the impact on regional ecosystem.

Project History

After the 1949 communist victory, the leader Mao Zedong supported the project, but the Gezhouba Dam project was begun first and economic problems including the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution slowed progress. In 1958, after the Hundred Flowers Campaign, some engineers who spoke out against the project were imprisoned.

During the 1980s plans were revived. Pushed through by Li Peng, the dam was approved by the National People's Congress in 1992 with a record number of abstentions and dissenting votes. The construction started on December 14, 1994. The dam was expected to be fully operational in 2009, but due to additional projects such as the underground power plant with 6 additional generators, and due to the complexity of the ship lift, the dam is not expected to become fully operational until about 2011. The dam will raise the water level the third time to its designed maximum water level (175 m above sea level) by the end of 2008.

Originally Posted: China Business Daily
Author: Angulo Fu