采访/田净 编辑/张天宇 后制/李智远
China Starts Building Controversial Dam in Tibet
China owns the largest number of dams in the world.
The prominent issues of natural disasters and ecological
destruction from the dams have brought more questions
and strong opposition to hydropower.
Construction on the largest in dam in Tibet, costing over
60 billion yuan ($9.8 billion), is stirring intense controversy.
Mainland media report that construction on the $10.8 billion
hydropower station on Yalong River in Sichuan
began on Oct. 6, and is expected to be completed in 2023.
The dam will be 295 meters high, and will be the tallest dam
in China and the second tallest in the world.
The dam will have a total filling volume equal to six
Bird’s Nests, Beijing’s Olympic Stadium.
The authorities say that the hydropower station will improve
the adjustment capacity of downstream stations,
the imbalanced Chongqing power grid structure,
the ecological environment of the Yangtze River’s
upper reaches, and the Yangtze River flood control capacity.
But experts say the benefits were only mentioned
to emphasize the feasibility of the construction,
while the long-term adverse effects of the station
are completely being ignored.
Zhang Junfeng, water resources expert: “For decades now,
since the Industrial Revolution and even up to now,
we can see that a lot of what we believed,
in terms of the engineering and scientific development,
have changed our environment, ecology and nature.
We have yet to understand some of these changes,
and we are completely unable to handle them."
Most experts in water conservancy, geology and environment
believe that the construction of dams often do more harm
than good, particularly when it comes to ecological damage.
For example, dense hydropower stations on the Yangtze River
have turned areas upstream of the river into layers of “terraces",
pushing many migratory fish to extinction, including the fish
known as the “living fossil in the water," the Chinese sturgeon.
Zhang Junfeng: “From an ecological perspective, the dam has
artificially destructed the ecological environment in the water.
The channel of the migration for some organisms,
such as the migratory fish, have been blocked.
Some water born microorganisms and other tiny organisms
are also blocked of its mobile state.
Once the flow of the ecosystem is destroyed,
so to will the local ecological balance."
The official environmental assessment report shows that
after the construction of dam, the habitat for at least 28 kinds
of rare and protected plants and animals of the national level
will be destroyed.
But environmentalists say that the official assessment is too
one-sided, and hasn’t fully revealed the true ecological harm
of the hydropower project.
Wu Lihong, environmentalist in Jiangsu: “I think construction
of the dam must pass arguments, have consent of neighboring
residents, consider scientific data, and environmental reports;
the environmental assessment must be made public.
Now the environmental assessments in China are fake!
In order to pass projects,
the government agencies make up fake assessments."
Other than the impact and damage to species of life, water,
and weather, the ecological destruction caused by dams
is also huge, leading to frequent natural disasters
such as seismic activity, landslides, mudslides, and floods.
Zhang Junfeng: “Yalong area belongs to the more active
geological zones, the construction of dams is bound to produce
some geological interference, which will have more profound
impact such as earthquakes or other geological hazards."
If the construction of the Yangtze River Three Gorges Project,
“the world’s largest dam," has caused decades of controversy
among experts and scholars, the Yalong River dam has caused
even wider disputes among the public since its construction.
Many netizens posted online criticisms of the authorities,
saying, “scourge of the earth, disregarding present
and future generations"; “waiting for extinction";
“Why they are being demolished overseas, but built in China?";
and “which interest groups have been benefited?"
A resident around the reservoir area questioned the authorities:
“Why hasn’t even one promise ever been honored?"
Interview/TianJing Edit/Zhang Tianyu Post-Production/Li Zhiyuan