A senior Chongqing official has admitted for the first time that the resettlement of people displaced by the controversial Three Gorges Dam has not been the success previously claimed by the authorities, with many returning to their old homes because they could not fit into their new environments. Chongqing authorities have in the past treated media reports about returning residents with disdain and repeatedly denied that it was happening. The issue is rarely covered by mainland media and has become a taboo subject in many places. While Chongqing vice-mayor Tan Qiwei insisted yesterday that most of the 1.3 million people displaced by the dam project were 'happy', he admitted that 'a tiny fraction' had chosen to return rather than accept the government's resettlement plan. 'Of 170,000 Chongqing residents who were forced to move to other areas to make way for the gigantic dam project, only about 6,000 people have returned by the end of last year due to various reasons, including a little over 1,000 people returning for abnormal reasons,' Tan said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress. He did not explain what he meant by 'abnormal reasons'. Tan said a large number of residents returned because they wanted to live with their relatives, who had not been displaced, but there were many others who found it too difficult to settle down after resettlement. What he did not mention was the bitter complaints from those people, who say they have been treated unfairly in their new surroundings in 'developed provinces and cities along the Yangtze and eastern coast' and have only received a fraction of the promised compensation. They have accused local authorities of turning a deaf ear to their plight for years and some have even travelled to Beijing to voice their grievances. 'I don't think it's a big deal that just a couple of thousand people out of hundreds of thousands returned to old homes,' Tan said.