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Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 22:58:06 -0300
Three Gorges Dam begins to crack, [+ big dam campaign in India]

Dear All:

The following Three Gorges Dam campaign update [#1], further exposes the realities of 'big dam' violations we all know so well thanks to writings and actions of Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar and others who are waging campaigns against 'big dams' in India - In fact some activists in India are today in their 27th day of a fasting campaign against the rising waters in the Maan area and they are rapidly deteriorating [ as described in the press note from the Narmada Bachao Andolan [#2] below ]

This Three Gorges Dam update [#1] notes that dozens of towns and thousands of cultural treasures will be lost to a watery grave and that millions of Chinese are dreading that day, amid growing concern that the massive dam itself could fail, unleashing a tidal wave that could kill millions downstream.

It also implores Canadians to tell their government that they don't want them to support this dam with their tax dollars. To finish the project, cash-strapped Chinese dam officials continue to ask the Canadian government for financing and the Canadian government continues to give it to them. .... Please, they say, let your elected representative know that draping the Canadian flag over the Three Gorges dam violates the values that Canadians hold dear.

See also
FRONTLINE, Volume 16 - Issue 11, May. 22 - June 04, 1999
The Human Cost of Big Dams
By Arundhati Roy

"Fifty years on, hard as it may be for some of us, we have to admit that Big Dams have let this country down. They are monuments to political corruption and social inequity. --Arundhati Roy

[1] Three Gorges Dam Campaign Update
Date sent: Tue, 18 Jun 2002
Three Gorges dam begins to crack, putting millions at risk

Campaign Update

In less than 400 days, the waters will start rising behind China's Three Gorges dam, the largest dam ever to be built. Dozens of towns and thousands of cultural treasures will be lost to a watery grave. Millions of Chinese are dreading that day, amid growing concern that the massive dam itself could fail, unleashing a tidal wave that could kill millions downstream.

Cracks in the dam, first discovered in 1999, have multiplied and grown. Some now extend from the top to the bottom of the huge concrete structure. Some are as wide as an adult hand, some run as deep as two metres into the dam. Chinese officials admit there have been concrete pouring problems, prompting the Beijing media to ask: "Can the dam still hold water?"

Engineers fear other forms of failure too. China's top engineers, who helped design the Three Gorges project, now worry about the new settlements for people displaced by the dam. These new towns have been constructed on mountainous slopes and in geologically unstable areas that could trigger disasters and threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands. The engineers identified 1,320 dangerous sites along the reservoir where landslides could occur and the riverbank could collapse. Already, one landslide of 20 million cubic metres of rock and earth has partially slid down a mountainside, threatening a resettlement town of 10,000 people.

Chinese officials also fear a public health disaster around the Three Gorges reservoir. Some 24 billion tonnes of untreated human and industrial waste are dumped into the Yangtze River every year. As well, thousands of sites contaminated with industrial, radioactive, and biohazardous materials are about to be submerged by the reservoir. Municipal officials, who will have this toxic cocktail as their neighbour, are scrambling to find alternative sources of water.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of displaced people, and their host populations, now face deprivation and chaos — they're forced to manage with less land, fewer jobs, inadequate housing and basic services such as water, hospitals, and schools. One respected Chinese social scientist has warned that Three Gorges forced migration has sown the seeds of social instability that will last for decades. To make matters worse, corrupt resettlement officials have pocketed funds allocated to these migrants, which were intended to help them rebuild their homes and lives. Four representatives of one community, who appealed to Communist Party officials to redress these wrongs, were convicted of "disturbing public order" and thrown in jail.

For 15 years now, Probe International and our brave colleagues and dedicated experts in China have predicted that the costs of the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River would be huge and unpredictable, and that the dam's benefits would be small and uncertain. Now, 10 years after this project was approved, these predictions are tragically coming true.

The Three Gorges dam was supposed to stop deadly floods in the Yangtze valley. Yet secret correspondence among top Chinese officials responsible for building the dam reveal that "the flood control capacity of the Three Gorges project is smaller than declared by us." But, "never, ever let the public know this," warn the letters, which have been leaked to Probe International.

Dam officials also worry that the dam will cripple shipping along the Yangtze, not facilitate it. And that it will fail to be an energy boon. Our analysis, together with leading Chinese energy sector analysts, reveals that Three Gorges power will be two to three times more expensive than power from high-efficiency gas turbines and cogeneration. Three Gorges power officials, who fear they won't find customers for their expensive power, are banking on state decrees to force it on unwilling customers.

What can you do at this late date?

Tell the Canadian government that you don't want to support this dam with your tax dollars. To finish the project, cash-strapped Chinese dam officials continue to ask the Canadian government for financing and the Canadian government continues to give it to them. The Canadian government paid for a dam feasibility study that was flawed, then financed a cement factory for Three Gorges, a computer system to manage construction of the dam, turbines and generators and, recently, a bridge across the Yangtze needed for dam construction. But, when it comes to defending the fundamental rights of Chinese citizens who are threatened by this dam, the Canadian government remains mute.

Please let your elected representative know that draping the Canadian flag over the Three Gorges dam violates the values that Canadians hold dear.

And, please, support us with a generous donation to help us in our work to expose the truth about the dam. We must do all we can to stop further tragedies caused by the Three Gorges dam, and to protect future generations from a repetition of this profoundly damaging project.

Yours sincerely,

Patricia Adams,
Executive Director

The Three Gorges Probe news service is now receiving an astounding 4,000 hits a day, and reaching Chinese citizens with the truth about the dam.

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See also:


Narmada Bachao Andolan
Jail Road, Mandleshwar,
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh

Press note
Bhopal: 16 June 2002

Further decline in the health of fasting activists: Government Tries to Wash-Off Responsibility: Uninterested to Resolve Crisis: "Oustees of all Narmada Valley Projects will Join Hands to Fight Displacement and Destitution", said Medha Patkar

On the dharna enters 33rd day of the indefinite fast enters into the 27th day, health of fasting activists is deteriorating. Fasting activists have continued their fast underground, not letting the state government to diffuse the struggle by forcefully ending the fast. In case of Chittaroopa Palit, Vinod Patwa and Ram Kuvar vomiting continues and critically high acetone levels are detected in their urine. Health of Ram Kuvar, the tribal activist from Khedi village affected by Maan is most critical.

Despite the fast and the beginning of submergence in the Maan affected villages, at the very out set of monsoon, the government has not taken any concrete steps to resolve the crisis to ensure that people will be resettled as per the government policy. Heavy monsoon rains in last 3 days have in the Maan affected area has resulted in creating a small reservoir. Fields of adivasi peasants in Khedi, the first village were partly submerged. It should be noted that despite the terror tactics of the government to destroy hand pumps, electricity connections and schools in these villages about a month ago, people continue to stay in their homes. According to the information received from the field, police force has been sent to the affected villages. Yesterday people refused to let the police force enter their villages. The land acquisition officer visited Khedi and threatened people and abused them when they refused to move out of their homes. He threatened to bring in bulldozer to break the homes.

Members of Parliament, Shri.M.A.Baby, Shri.Varkala Radhakrishnan, Shri.Chittaranjan, eminent Constitutional expert Adv.Rajeev Dhawan, former Advocate-General of Kerala Adv.M.K.Damodaran, CPM Central Committee member, Shri.Suneet Chopra, noted political analyst Shri.Ninan Koshy and a number of legal experts gathered at the All India Lawyers Union Biennial Conference in Kochi, Kerala has appealed to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri. Digvijay Singh that, "any damage to life in the process of a non-violent struggle will be a blot not just on your government, but we are afraid that it will amputate one's confidence in the democratic and non-violent process." In a fax message they sent to Shri.Singh, they continued to say, "we request you to kindly constitute this (independent) committee (headed by Jst.(Retd) P.B.Samant). It will not only show your openness but also satisfy the agitators. We hope that formation of the committee will pave way for an early resolution, the people on fast will end their fast and justice will be done."

Yesterday the District Magistrate sent a letter to Alok Agrawal that the government has learnt from the press reports that the health of fasting activists has deteriorated and hence they should be admitted in the hospital, if not their responsibility will be personally on Alok Agrawal. In the reply the senior activist of NBA Alok Agrawal wrote that they went on fast by their own choice and on some pressing demands. They had declared that ones the demands are met, they will withdraw the fast. The reason for going underground is the police high handedness on the 12th night. Hence, by writing a few lines telling that the life of the ones on fast is the responsibility of Alok Agarwal, the state government cannot wash-off the hands. If the lives of the people is not the concern of the state that of the ones who are losing their lives and livelihood in the coming submergence, and that of the ones who are on fast, who were forced into that because of the insensitivity of the state then whose is the responsibility?

Senior activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ms.Medha Patkar has reached again today at the Dharna, at Bhopal. Addressing the press, she reiterated that all the people of Narmada valley whether affected by Maan, Sardar Sarovar, Maheshwar or other dams will fight together till justice is done to the people.

Representatives of people's organisations in Madhya Pradesh continue to be in Bhopal to extend solidarity and support the struggle. Sunil bhai of Samajwadi Jan Parishad and Anurag Modi of Shramik Adivasi Sangathan are notable among them. Samajwadi Jan Parishad will hold a rally and dharna at Bhopal on the 19th in support of the ongoing agitation.

Amrita Patwardhan Alok Agarwal

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