Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Report Finds Progress and Challenges in Chinese Resettlement Project

New Report Finds Progress and Challenges in Chinese Resettlement Project
International Rivers, August 25, 2010

The $62 billion South-North Water Transfer Project is the biggest
engineering scheme in Chinese history. About 330,000 people are currently
being relocated for the expansion of the Danjiangkou reservoir, which
marks the beginning of the transfer project's Middle Route. On August 25,
International Rivers published an eyewitness report on China's biggest
ongoing resettlement project. The report finds that the Chinese government
has learned lessons from the experience with the Three Gorges Dam, but
that serious problems remain.

The report was prepared by a Chinese development expert who knows the
Dangjiangkou region well, but needs to remain anonymous. It finds that the
Chinese government has learned important lessons from the problems of the
Three Gorges Project. The levels of compensation and post-resettlement
support have been significantly increased, and resettlement policies are
more detailed than in the past. Resettlers are no longer moved out of
their home provinces. The authorities have so far relied on persuasion
rather than force to implement the relocation project. They have also
instituted a certain degree of participation in project implementation
through the involvement of elected resettlement committees.

At the same time, major problems and risks remain. Affected people were
not involved in preparing the resettlement policies, which has created
unnecessary problems. Affected people have no freedom to choose among
different resettlement options. The resettlement budget is relatively low,
which may cause problems particularly in the post-resettlement phase.
Resettlement within the reservoir area will increase population density,
fuel social tensions, and add pressure on ecosystems which are already
under stress.

At the launch of the report, the researcher recommended that the
participation of affected people in the project be improved, and that
government support particularly for the period after resettlement be
strengthened. The researcher also urged the Chinese authorities to take
the ecological limits of the region into account as they implement the
water transfer project.

Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers, commented: "We
commend the Chinese authorities for the improvements which they have
adopted in their resettlement policies, and salute the courage of China's
dam-affected people who have helped to bring this progress about. We urge
the government to carry out the measures recommended in the new report to
avoid a deterioration of the situation. At the same time, the social and
environmental problems of the water transfer project show that the
solution of China's water crisis will not lie in grand engineering
schemes, but in efficiency improvements and conservation measures which
can reduce the country's water demand."

The new report, Resettlement in Action, is available at

A Chinese language version will soon be available at

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