Latest Three Gorges migration under way

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2001, 12:00am

Mainland authorities have started another phase of mass migration of families from the Three Gorges Dam area, official media reported yesterday.

The new resettlement programme started in May and will reach a climax in the coming two months, Xinhua said.

The agency said 2,734 people had been moved so far. Another 23,000 will join the mass migration this month and will be followed by more than 27,000 next month, Xinhua quoted an official in charge of the migration programme in Chongqing as saying.

The official said about 54,000 rural residents were scheduled to be moved this year to make way for the massive hydroelectric dam project. It will be the largest in the world when finished in 2009.

Of the 54,000, about 43,000 will be resettled in 11 provinces and cities including Shanghai and Anhui. Only about 10,000 will be able to move to areas close to their original homes in Chongqing.

The first phase of the mass migration programme started last year when about 10,000 people were shipped out of the Three Gorges area by train, coach and ferry to areas including Jiangsu and Shanghai.

Since the mass migration programme started, there have been reports that some families were denied proper compensation, with some even claiming they had been cheated by the authorities.

On Monday the Washington Times published a report quoting a farmer as saying he only received one-third of the compensation promised.

'Mr She [the farmer] was promised compensation, a new house and farmland, free electricity and education for his three children. But he actually received less than the local average of one-third of an acre per person, and local school bills are double the cost back home,' the report said.

Complaints by farmers coincided with a spate of reports about alleged corruption scandals related to the dam project. Officials admitted last year that about US$600 million (HK$4.6 billion), or 12 per cent of the resettlement fund, had been embezzled.

Official media reports said about 100 officials had been disciplined by the Communist Party, with some being sentenced for misappropriation of the funds.

Beijing is alarmed that many farmers seem reluctant to give up their ancestral land, and top leaders have instructed local cadres about the importance of handling the matter with care.

Chinese leaders have high expectations of the Three Gorges Dam. Not only will it become one of China's main sources of electricity, authorities also hope it will provide a lasting solution to flooding problems in the Yangtze River basin.