Revised plan for dam project

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 March, 2005, 12:00am

The central government will allow some of the 13 dams in the controversial Nujiang hydroelectric project in Yunnan province to be built.

But it will put the remainder on hold for at least a year until a revised plan is completed, said Minister of Water Resources Wang Shucheng .

Premier Wen Jiabao ordered the suspension of the project in February last year after environmentalists claimed it would cause widespread damage and force thousands of villagers from their homes.

'The construction of one to two dams which have less impact on the environment will begin first,' Mr Wang said on the sidelines of the NPC meeting yesterday.

'In the meantime, we will revise and improve the overall plan for the project.'

Earlier reports said the government had in November approved a scaled-down version of the project under which only four dams would be built, but this was also held back due to opposition from environmental groups.

Mr Wang declined to reveal which of the 13 dams would be built, but it was expected they would include the Liuku Dam, on which construction work has already begun.

He said the government was revising the plan for hydropower in Nujiang while taking into account its effects on the environment.

'It is true that there was an [earlier] plan and my personal view is that it fails to give adequate consideration to the environment,' he said.

'Now we are going to conduct a new overall plan for the river. [Looking at] how many dams there should be and where to build them. There will be a new plan.'

He said the revision would take about a year.

'Environmental impact assessments were not strict enough [before] and they need to be stricter,' the minister added.

'Developers [of power plants] should conduct these assessments during the preliminary work and they should not be afraid doing so would affect [progress of] the construction.'