Diversion of Yellow River for dam project under way

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 October, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 October, 1997, 12:00am

A huge damming operation began yesterday on the Yellow River, China's second longest.

Trucks dumped stones into the river at Xiaolangdi, near Luoyang in Henan province, as the water control project reached a critical stage.

The damming was due to take 42 hours to complete. Local and foreign engineers and labourers were working around the clock.

The US$37 billion (HK$286.2 billion) project is the largest on the river. It will provide China's second largest reservoir. There are already 160 reservoirs preventing floods on the river.

The building of the Xiaolangdi Dam has attracted trouble from its beginning.

Many critics condemned it as a dangerous, stop-gap measure. Some described it as the 'world's largest river management experiment' with the entire population of the Yellow River Delta being served as unwitting subjects.

During the building of water diversion tunnels, differences between the Chinese Government and a key German contractor saw work held up for 11 months.

However, irrigation expert Pan Jiazheng said: 'The Xiaolangdi project will prevent catastrophic flooding.' The project, involving the relocation of 200,000 people, is expected to be completed in 2001. It will control 93 per cent of the river's drainage area and handle huge floods that might occur every 1,000 years, Xinhua said.