Thursday, February 28, 2013

China Asks Companies to Mind Environment When Investing Overseas

China Asks Companies to Mind Environment When Investing Overseas
By Bloomberg News - Feb 28, 2013 7:25 AM ET

China issued environmental protection guidelines for the country's
companies to follow when investing overseas, calling on them to pay more
attention to pollution and its impact on local communities.

The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Environmental Protection
issued the guidelines so that Chinese companies can reduce disputes
arising from the neglect of environmental issues, Yao Jian, a commerce
ministry spokesman, said at a briefing in Beijing today. The guidelines
call on companies to follow local environmental laws, assess the
environmental risks of their projects, minimize the impact on local
heritage and draft plans for handling emergencies.

"We want our companies to realize that they must look after
environmental issues in domestic and overseas investments," Bie Tao, a
policy department official from the Chinese environment ministry, said
at the briefing. "No side will win if the environment is neglected, and
we have many lessons in this regard."

Zambia last week revoked the license of a Chinese-owned coal mine in the
south of the country after violations of safety and environmental laws.
In Myanmar, construction of a $3.6 billion hydropower plant by a venture
between China Power Investment Corp., Myanmar's Ministry of Electric
Power-1 and a local private company was halted after the project drew
the criticism of environmentalists and local residents protested.

China's outbound investment in the non-financial sector jumped 28.6
percent to $77.2 billion in 2012, according to the commerce ministry.

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Irrawaddy NGO proposes waterway commission

Ayeyarwady NGO proposes waterway commission
By Aye Sapay Phyu
25 February 2013

A recent proposal to form an Ayeyarwady River Commission was
supplemented by the idea of creating a water sustainability body
during the first consultative meeting of the Ayeyarwady Basin Research
Organisation in Yangon in mid-February.

U Cho Cho at the Ayeyarwady Basin Research Organisation's first public
meeting at the Royal Rose Restaurant in Bahan township February 9,
2013. (Boothee/The Myanmar Times)

The Ayeyarwady Basin Research Organisation is a non-government body
formed in May 2012 by experts in water, development and the environment.

The proposal to create an Ayeyarwady River Commission was submitted to
the Amyotha Hluttaw on February 5 by U Myo Myint, a representative of
Mandalay Region, and approved that day.

U Cho Cho, chairperson of Institute for Civil, Earth and Water
Engineering, a non-government organisation, said efforts must be made
to ensure the sustainability of the waterway.

"Myanmar and the Ayeyarwady can't be separated, and the country
developed based on the river," he said on February 9. "We need to care
for and love the Ayeyarwady because it is not an easy task to restore
it," he said.

U Cho Cho said development projects on or near the rivers should only
be implemented after the possible downstream impacts had been analysed.

Daw Davi Thant Cin, chief editor of Aung Pin Lae Environmental
Magazine, said systematic management of water resources will become
more important as the impact of climate change worsens. She added that
the river's tributaries must also be protected to ensure the whole
basin remains healthy.

Daw Khon Ja, a member of the Kachin Peace Network, said environmental
degradation in the Ayeyarwady's tributaries and in its watershed must
be monitored and prevented.

"We can't really say anything about the Ayeyarwady without including
the Maykha and Malikha rivers," she said. "There are gold mining
projects within 3 furlongs (about 600 metres) of the Maykha's banks.

"This affects the Ayeyarwady River and the evidence can be seen where
the muddy water replaces the clear water at the Myitsone confluence.
This creates sandbanks in the river and slows transportation. But the
problems there will be passed on to the whole country downstream," she

Hydropower projects with a total installed capacity of about 20,000
megawatts (MW) were agreed by the Ministry of Electric Power 1 and
China Power Investment Corporation in 2006, including seven dams in
the upstream areas of the Ayeyarwady River.

The biggest of these, the 6000MW Myitsone dam, was suspended by
President U Thein Sein in September 2011 following popular opposition.
However, work on the other six dams has been halted since fighting
broke out between the Kachin Independent Army and the Tatmadaw.

Daw Khon Ja added that the Ayeyarwady is also an important trade route
between southwestern China and Myanmar.

U Win Myo Thu, the managing director of Ecodev, an NGO that focuses on
environmental issues, said ecological engineering should be applied to
the management of rivers.

"We still have huge gaps in our knowledge concerned with the
hydrological dynamic of rivers," he said. "The problems will be
magnified if we try to construct dams and water gates without paying
attention to this issue. The best approach is to allow the water to
flow naturally," he said.

Dr Khin Ni Ni Thein, the founder and patron of the Ayeyarwady Basin
Research Organisation, said one of the suggestions of the meeting is
to request the President's Office to form a Myanmar Water Resources
Commission charged with maintaining the sustainability of the
country's water resources.

She added that the Chindwin, Sittoung and Thanlwin river systems were
also important for the nation and must be properly managed.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chinese Dams in Cambodia - Lower Sesan 2 Dam (various reporting)

Lawmakers Approve Lower Sesan 2 Dam
By Kuch Naren, The Cambodian Daily (February 18, 2013)

The National Assembly approved the financing of a 400-megawatt dam in
Stung Treng province on Friday, giving the project the green light in
spite of objections from opposition lawmakers who argued that the
so�cial and environmental impacts outweigh the project's benefits.

After four hours of debate by opposition SRP lawmakers, 82 out of 90
lawmakers voted in favor of moving ahead with the Lower Sesan 2 dam�a
controversial hydropower plant that will be located at the confluence of
the Sesan and Srepok rivers.

It is set to displace more than 5,000 villagers, and studies have shown
that up to 100,000 residents upstream and downstream of the dam will be
severely affected by its impact on the rivers' fisheries.

"There is no transparency in almost all of the government's hy�dropower
dam projects and coal plant construction projects because public bidding
is never done," said SRP lawmaker Son Chhay, who voted against the law.

"[The National Assembly] should not approve the law and a new thorough
study and research for the impacts of the project should be conducted,"
he continued.

Documents presented on Fri�day supporting the law de�tailed the costs of
the dam's construction, the cost of electricity sold to state-owned
utility Elec�tri�cite du Cambodge, and the resettlement of almost 800
affected families in Sesan district.

The law also guarantees that in the event that the $781 million project
should fail, the government would grant a bailout to the company, owned
by local conglomerate Royal Group in collaboration with China's
Hydrolancang Inter�national Energy Co. Ltd.

Before the law passage, Mr. Chhay also pointed out the discrepancies
between the law and a 2009 environmental impact assessment commissioned
by then-majority shareholder EVNI. While it was originally estimated
that 1,052 families would be impacted, the new law only factors in
compensation for 797 families.

In addition, the project was originally slated to cost about $500
million under a 35-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model; the project
now costs $871 million and is under a 45-year BOT.

Mr. Chhay added that past experience showed that companies often cleared
forest areas outside the designated reservoir and in this case could
have bad consequences for the forests of Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri

The luxury wood from these forests will bring a great profit to the
company, SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said after the passage of the law.

"When it comes to clearing trees for the dam reservoir, we have seen
that the forests outside of the dam reservoir in the Stung Tatai dam [in
Koh Kong province] were destroyed," Mr. Chhay said.

Energy Minister Suy Sem, who de�fended the law during the de�bate,
argued that thorough studies have found fewer villagers than previously
believed would be affected and that the project would generate cheaper
energy for the country.

"For planned construction of the Lower Sesan 2 dam, two impact
assessments have been conducted already and a number of thorough debates
have been made," Mr. Sem said. "We are not careless, and we are not
hurting people."

However, villagers living in Srekor commune, inside the designated
reservoir area, reiterated yesterday that they had not been con�sulted.
Puth Khoeun, 35, la�mented the law's passage and said the entire process
had lacked transparency.

"I want to say that the government does not own the river. The river is
for all," said Mr. Khoeun. "We are the villagers most affected by the
dam and this development comes without any of our direct involvement to
discuss the impacts."

"This project should have been suspended. This will stir a big an�ger
among the affected families," he added.

Royal Group chairman Kith Meng declined to comment. "Please talk to the
ministries," he said.

Mr. Sem gave no details on when the clearing of land or the dam
construction will begin, but said that the project should be completed
by 2017.

(Additional reporting by Dene-Hern Chen)


Regional Bank, IMF Note Risks to Government's Dam Guarantee
By Dene-Hern Chen and Kuch Naren, The Cambodian Daily (February 22, 2013)


The government's guaranteed bailout of major infrastructure projects,
such as the future 400-megawatt hydropower dam in Stung Treng province,
requires a thorough assessment of forecasted risks�a capability which
the government currently does not possess, an Asian Development Bank
(ADB) official said on Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2013 Cambodia Outlook conference in
Phnom Penh, Eric Sidg�wick, country director of ADB, de�clined to
comment directly on the $781 million Lower Sesan 2 dam, but said that in
regards to public-private partnership projects, he would advise for the
government to start small in terms of projects and risks.

"A risk management unit is a fairly advanced unit that is staffed with
people who know how to do that, and I don't think [Cam�bo�dia] has that
staff in the government yet," Mr. Sidgwick said.

As for guaranteed payments on multimillion-dollar projects undertaken
with private partners, the government must be able to forecast the
future risks of a project, or its contingent liabilities, he said.

"Over time, it must not end up being a constraint for the government,"
Mr. Sidgwick said.

"You need good information on what the contingent liabilities are and
what the terms are so that the government can factor in over a long
period of time what its financial position is in any point in time," he

"If all these guarantees were recalled at the same time, what would be
the implications? It's unlikely to happen, but the government should
know what would be the implication of that."

Under the contract between the government and the two companies
responsible for the Lower Sesan 2 dam, local businessman Kith Meng's
Royal Group and China's Hydrolancang Interna�tional Energy Co. Ltd.,
Cambodia promises to provide a financial bailout in the event that the
project should fail for "political" reasons, or if Electricite du
Cambodge is unable to pay for the electricity the dam generates during
the 45 years that the two companies will operate the facility. After 45
years, ownership of the dam reverts to state ownership.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap vigorously defended the government's guarantee,
saying that it helps to build the confidence of investors and that it is
typical in such a project.

Explaining the guarantee's reference to "political force majeure," Mr.
Yeap said the term re�ferred to a future "political deadlock," war, or
"national chaos." He also said the guarantee stipulated that future
governments could not change the terms of the contract with Royal Group,
a company with no experience in hydropower and which did not have to
competitively bid for the contract, and China's Hydrolancang.

"The government bodies from the top to the lower level have worked with
all relevant ministries and the [Council for the Development of
Cambodia] to review all impacts before handing the biggest energy
project to Roy�al Group to do the construction," Mr. Yeap added.

Mr. Meng was in attendance at Wednesday's conference, which was
co-sponsored by another of his partnerships, ANZ Royal Bank, but he
declined to comment on the government's dam guarantee.

Asked about the IMF's position on the government's guarantee, IMF
Resident Representative Faisal Ahmed, a speaker at the conference,
declined to comment and referred instead to a 2012 IMF report on
Cambodia's debt sustainability and economic performance.

In that report, the IMF singled out the government's energy generation
expansion as an area where liabilities are not being fully considered in
light of the government's rapid push for power and their "conservative
forecasting scenarios" when providing "take-or-pay guarantees."

�However, the sheer size of these projects, and the fact that risks for
complex infrastructure projects are difficult to quantify [before the
event] call for continuous and careful monitoring, as they could
severely curtail the fiscal room for maneuver, in particular in the
event of adverse economic shocks,� the IMF said.

Transparency in terms of liabilities, as well as a competitive bidding
process for such projects, would help alleviate these risks to
government, the IMF said.

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China, ASEAN Willing to Cooperate more on Hydropower

China, ASEAN Willing to Cooperate more on Hydropower

23 February 2013, Xinhua

The China International Water & Electric Corp. (CWE) will invest more in
hydropower projects in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
member countries, the head of the company said Friday.

Wang Yu, president of CWE, said at a meeting with commercial counselors
from ASEAN countries that the company is eager to engage in more
hydropower projects and contribute to hydropower development in ASEAN

CWE was working on more than 30 contracting projects in ASEAN countries
by the end of 2012, according to Wang.

The counselors also welcomed CWE to invest more in their countries.

Ong Chong Yi, a counselor from the Malaysian Embassy to China, said that
compared with Malaysian investment in China, the latter's investment in
his country is quite small.

Bui Huy Hoang, a counsellor from the Embassy of Vietnam to China, said
he hopes more Chinese companies will invest in Vietnam.

Xu Ningning, executive secretary-general of the China-ASEAN Business
Council, said ASEAN countries have a similar cultural background to
China and it is easier for Chinese companies to do business there.

CWE is a state-owned company that specializes in international
hydropower construction and investment. The company is now operating in
about 30 countries and regions with total assets exceeding 10 billion
yuan (1.6 billion U.S. dollars).

Diplomatic officials in charge of commercial affairs from Laos,
Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia
visited CWE on Friday to discuss further hydropower cooperation with China.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Mapping China's Massive West-East Electricity Transfer Project

Mapping China's Massive West-East Electricity Transfer Project
By David Tyler Gibson
February 20, 2013
New Security Beat, Wilson Center

See link for interactive map:

The Wilson Center's China Environment Forum is proud to announce that we
are launching our first interactive infographic: a map of China's
West-East Electricity Transfer Project. The map underscores China's
energy and water imbalances and the looming choke point China faces in
terms of water, food, and energy security. The map also illustrates how
consumer goods made in China's factories along its eastern coast are
powered by coal and hydropower in the country's western provinces.

Feeding the Beasts

Mammoth infrastructure development is keeping China's economic engine
running at a fast clip. Nevertheless, China's urban and industrial
centers on the east coast still face energy shortages, in large part
because most wind, coal, and hydro power plants are concentrated in the
country's inland provinces. China's northern grain belt also faces water
shortages as increasing coal production uses more and more water.

Instead of addressing the sources of these water and energy imbalances
through conservation and other demand management techniques, China's
policymakers are "feeding the beasts" by undertaking two huge
infrastructure projects.

The first is the South-North Water Transfer Project, the largest
infrastructure project in the world, which will eventually transfer 35
billion cubic meters of water every year from China's wet south to its
dry north.

The second is the West-East Electricity Transfer Project. Initiated
during the 10th five-year plan (2000 to 2005), the project is designed
to bring investment and development to China's lagging west while
satisfying the growing electricity needs of the country's eastern provinces.

The project's first phase has been and is continuing to expand the
western provinces' electricity-generating capacity, primarily through
the construction of new coal bases and hydroelectric dams. The second
ongoing component is the construction of three electricity-transmission
corridors that connect newly built generation capacity in the north,
central, and south to the coast (see arrows on map).

Each of the corridors is expected to exceed 40 gigawatts in capacity by
2020 - a combined capacity equivalent to 60 Hoover Dams. The seven
recipient provinces - Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanghai, Zhejiang,
Jiangsu, and Guangdong - together consume nearly 40 percent of China's
total electricity.

Yunnan's Nuozhadu Dam on the Mekong River was constructed as a part of
this project, and has been touted as part of the backbone of the
southern corridor, sending two-thirds of its output to Guangdong - the
leading province in export manufacturing.

The controversial Three Gorges Dam is an integral component in the
central corridor, sending 35 percent of its electricity to the Yangtze
River Delta - China's second largest manufacturing region, behind
Guangdong. The southern corridor also receives energy from the Three
Gorges Dam, albeit only about 16 percent of the dam's output.

Also along the central corridor, the longest, single ultra-high voltage
direct current line in the world connects the Xiangjiaba dam on the
Yangtze River (between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces) to Shanghai. It is
1,287 miles long and has a capacity of 6.4 gigawatts.

"Made Possible by Coal and Water"

Though the West-East Project brings energy security to the east coast,
it exacerbates water and food insecurity in the fragile ecosystems of
the west. Because China's eastern economic powerhouse provinces rely on
western-made electricity, the energy sectors in the west take priority
over local residential and agricultural water users.

These conflicting demands are creating vulnerabilities - or choke points
- that China must address to sustain its current growth.

For example, in addition to providing hydroelectric power to Guangdong
and elsewhere, Yunnan's rivers are being diverted north as part of the
South-North Water Transfer Project. But the region is now three years
into a serious drought. This creates tension between local agricultural
needs and those of Yunnan's dependents, and if the south and the north
experience drought at the same time and Guangdong province is still
demanding power from Yunnan, the situation could potentially be much worse.

In fact, Yunnan's drought has already had impacts in Guangdong. In the
summer of 2011, factories in Guangdong province were asked to cut power
at different hours of the day for varying lengths of time because dams
in Guizhou, Guangxi, and Yunnan were producing electricity far below
capacity - some as low as 10 percent of normal daily output. In total,
during early 2012, reserve hydropower capacity in the three provinces of
the southern corridor was down 47 percent year-over-year, thanks to the
ongoing drought.

But perhaps even more troubling, the West-East Electricity Transfer
Project illustrates how the Western world is driving the increasing use
of coal and hydropower in China. Indeed, much of the electricity
produced from coal and hydropower in western China is transmitted across
the country to factories making cheap goods for Western customers. It
seems that in addition to "made in China," most of our consumer goods
should perhaps say, "made possible by coal and water."

A full-size version of the map is available here:

David Tyler Gibson is a research assistant for the Wilson Center's China
Environment Forum.

Map Credit: James Conkling, fellow at Amnesty International, and David
Tyler Gibson. Special thanks to Zifei Yang for her help in finding the
data, and Jennifer Turner, Susan Shifflett, Aubrey Parker, and Katie
Beck for their valuable input.

Sources: ABB, China Data Online, Circle of Blue, The Economic Observer,
The Economist, State Grid Corporation of China, U.S. Department of the
Interior Bureau of Reclamation.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kishenganga Dam: winning the battle but losing the war

Winning the battle but losing the war
John Briscoe
The Hindu, February 22, 2013

While allowing India to build the Kishenganga project, the International
Court of Arbitration has de facto ruled that the Baglihar decision was
wrong and should not be applied to future projects

The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), signed in 1960, took 10 years to
negotiate, primarily because of the thorny issue of balancing, on the
one hand, the reasonable expectation by India that it could use the
hydroelectric potential of "Pakistan's rivers" (the Chenab, Jhelum and
Indus) before these rivers entered Pakistan and, on the other, the
reasonable expectation by Pakistan that this would neither decrease the
flow to Pakistan nor change the timing of the flow. This was dealt with
in the IWT essentially by hardwiring into the Treaty limitations on the
amount of manipulable (or "live") storage which India could develop in
its projects.

Stress point

As has often been recounted, the IWT worked well for decades, even
through periods when India and Pakistan were at war. But the truth of
the matter is that the Treaty was not really under stress until India
started (quite appropriately, in my view) building hydropower plants
across the Himalayas, and, in particular, on its side of the Line of
Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. The first case, where the Indian and
Pakistani Indus Water Commissioners were unable to resolve their
differences, was the one of the Baglihar hydropower project on the
Chenab. At Pakistan's request, the World Bank appointed a Neutral Expert
to evaluate the claims. After two years of work the Neutral Expert
returned his verdict. The essence of the verdict was that the Treaty
allowed for new knowledge to be taken into account, that new knowledge
on sediment management meant that modern dams should be able to flush
sediments through low-level gates and that this element of the design of
the Baglihar dam was therefore acceptable. What the Neutral Expert
completely ignored was that this change essentially meant eliminating
the "limit live storage" provision of the IWT, a provision that was at
the very heart of Pakistan's acceptance of the Treaty in the first
place. Since there are a large number of hydroprojects on the drawing
board in Indian-held Kashmir, and since the cumulative storage on the
Chenab alone has been estimated to be about 40 days, this essentially
left Pakistan with no protection against unintentional or intentional
harm from Indian manipulation of the dead storage they were now allowed
to build.

Which brings us to the Kishenganga case. The far-sighted Indian and
Pakistani engineers who drew up the IWT had foreseen the Kishenganga
case quite specifically and had dedicated a whole section to this
specific case. Annexure D para 15 states "where a Plant is located on a
tributary of the Jhelum on which Pakistan has any agricultural use or
hydroelectric use, the water released below the plant may be delivered,
if necessary, into another tributary but only to the extent that the
then existing agricultural use or hydroelectric use by Pakistan on the
former tributary would not be adversely affected." While lawyers might,
à la Bill Clinton, ponder the meaning of "has," it is clear to most that
since there was no "then existing use" by Pakistan, India was well
within its rights to build Kishenganga.

In my opinion Pakistan should never have taken this case to the
International Court of Arbitration (ICA), because there was, in my view,
no chance that they would win the case. Another Pakistani loss after
Baglihar would have several consequences, all negative for Pakistan.
First, they would have wasted a lot of resources paying for high-priced
lawyers. Second, they could be spending their scarce human resources on
more productive areas, like improving the management of water in
Pakistan. And third, as the press headlines in both India and Pakistan
trumpet "India wins, again," this would reinforce the Indian claim that
"victories" over both Baglihar and Kishenganga showed that India was
playing by the rules while Pakistan just wanted to harass India on these

But, as the Christian Brothers told me when I was a boy growing up in
South Africa, the Lord works in mysterious ways. In this case there is
no doubt that India has won the battle, but I think that it has, in
fact, lost a far more important war.

Live storage

What is my reasoning? The battle is about Kishenganga. The decision of
the International Court of Arbitration will, indeed, mean a loss of
somewhere between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of the generation capacity
at Pakistan's Neelum Jhelum project, an economic and electricity cost
which Pakistan can hardly afford. But this is a one-off case — the war
is about the large number of projects which India plans to build on the
Chenab and Jhelum. And here it is the finding of the ICA on allowable
manipulable storage which is the key issue. The Baglihar decision would
appear to have provided India with a green light to build these projects
with as much live storage as they chose (as long as they classified it
as "for sediment flushing"). What is enormously important is that the
ICA has, according to early press accounts, addressed this issue head-on
and, de facto, concluded that the Baglihar finding in this regard
undercut the central compromise of the Indus Waters Treaty, was wrong
and should not be applied to future projects. The ICA has, apparently,
specifically ruled that the design and operation of Indian hydropower
projects on the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum cannot include more live
storage than allowed under the IWT, even if the justification for such
storage is silt management.

This finding is of far greater significance than the one-off (and
correct, in my view) finding relating to Kishenganga. It restores the
central protection — put into question by the Baglihar finding — which
Pakistan had acquired when Nehru and Ayub Khan signed the IWT in 1960.

Joint benefits

A final word. While it is good — in the view of this observer — that the
ICA has put humpty-dumpty back together again, this is not enough. It
restores the status quo ante Baglihar, but that is an uneasy and
unproductive status quo. Without a change, of course, Pakistan will
continue to object to every project on the Indus, Jhelum or Chenab in
Indian-held Kashmir (and now, armed with the ICA conclusion on dead
storage, Pakistan is likely to win). This will discourage investors from
investing in these vital plants on the Indian side, and will escalate
the tit-for-tat response (already patent) of India trying to impede
needed international support for the construction of hydropower plants
in Gilgit Baltistan, which lies on the Pakistani side of the LoC. What
is needed is to use the resetting of the terms by the ICA for India and
Pakistan to start out in a new direction. This should be one in which
there is a search for joint benefits (such as hydropower plants built in
the best possible sites, with power sold both ways, and with operating
rules which benefit both parties built into the project). As a long-time
student of this dynamic in the subcontinent it remains my conviction
that the first step in breaking the long-standing vicious cycle must
come from sustained, high-level, political leadership from India. I am
confident that Pakistan would respond positively to such an overture.
And I am equally sure that if this great strategic issue is left in the
hands of mid-level bureaucrats, the future is likely to be more of the
bad-for-both-sides past.

(John Briscoe served as Senior Water Adviser for the World Bank in New
Delhi. Now at Harvard University, he was recently the lead consultant
for the Water Sector Task Force of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan.
The opinions in this piece are his own. The photograph is of the
Kishenganga hydroelectric project in north Kashmir.)

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Zimbabwe starts paying Zambia debt to enable hydropower project

Zimbabwe starts paying Zambia debt to enable hydropower project
Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:24am EST

* Zimbabwe to have paid $40 mln of debt by end-March

* Joint venture to produce 1,600 MW

Feb 19 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's state utility ZESA said it had started
paying a $70 million debt to Zambia, a necessary step before the two
nations can embark on a joint 1,600 megawatt hydroelectric plant,
which could help relieve a power shortage.

The two southern African countries have started preliminary work on
the Batoka power project, estimated to cost $2.5 billion, and expected
to be built and operated by a private company for a period of years
before transferring ownership to the two states.

Zimbabwe, which currently generates just over 1,000 MW of power or
about half of peak demand, has struggled to get funding for new
projects to expand capacity, largely due to concerns about President
Robert Mugabe's handling of the economy. The resulting power shortage
has paralysed mines and industries.

ZESA Chief Executive Elijah Chifamba told a parliamentary committee
hearing the utility had started making payments to Zambia to clear the
debt incurred when Zimbabwe sold off assets of a disbanded power firm
jointly owned by the two countries to run hydroelectric plants at the
Kariba dam.

Chifamba said Zimbabwe will have paid $40 million to the Zambians by
the end of March.

"Zambians needed to see first that we were committed to settling that
debt and to demonstrate that we are bona fide partners before they
could actually enter into the Batoka project," he said.

"Because we have done so, that has unlocked the project."

Chifamba said ZESA, which is owed $740 million by non-paying
customers, was struggling to raise long-term finance to fund its
projects. The company has, however, cleared $100 million in debt for
importing power owed to Mozambique's Hydro Cahorra Bassa.

The utility signed a $400 million deal with Chinese hydropower
engineering firm Sinohydro in December to expand its Kariba
hydroelectric plant by 300 megawatts.

Zimbabwe is in discussions with Export-Import Bank of China over
funding the expansion.

Zimbabwe has licensed several independent power producers, but
analysts say it is unlikely to attract significant foreign investment
due to Mugabe's drive to force foreign firms, including mines and
banks, to turn over 51 percent ownership stakes to locals under a
black economic empowerment law. (Reporting by Nelson Banya; editing by
Jane Baird)

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Fishes Shun Modern Dam Passages, Contributing to Population Declines/SciAm

Upstream Battle: Fishes Shun Modern Dam Passages, Contributing to
Population Declines
A river study in the U.S. Northeast has found that many fish species
are unable to use standard passageways to swim past dams on their
spawning runs

By Amy Kraft

Fishes may not need bicycles, as Gloria Steinem once suggested, but
elevators and ladders can come in handy. Since the 1960s the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission has required dam builders to install
state-of-the-art fish passages on public waterways to help shad,
salmon and other species make their annual spring journeys upriver to
spawn. Hydropower dams have built inclined water channels called
ladders that fishes could swim through or elevators that use caged
buckets to lift fish up and over the dam. Although these passages are
monitored to ensure that fishes use them, a new study by ecologists
and economists shows that very few fishes actually pass through to
reach their spawning grounds, which exacerbates the decline in fish

Jed Brown of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu
Dhabi and colleagues analyzed decades-worth of data on fish passages
in the Merrimack, Connecticut and Susquehanna rivers in the U.S.
Northeast. Roughly 2 percent of the targeted number of American shad
made it through Essex Dam on the Merrimack River in 2011 and close to
0 percent passed through dams on the Connecticut and Susquehanna.
Restoration targets for river herring, two species of silver-colored
fishes, are in the hundreds of thousands to millions of fish but in
recent years, less than 1,000 herring on average have returned to
these rivers from the ocean. Atlantic salmon numbers in the
Connecticut River have been similarly low despite decades of
restoration efforts.

One problem is that some fish passages are maladapted to the fishes
they were built to help. A 2001 report by the United States Geological
Survey showed that some fishes require specialized fishways because
they cannot maneuver on ladders, which are meant to simulate natural
rapids. For example, Atlantic salmon and river herring can easily
navigate fish ladders because they naturally plunge through
headwaters. Sturgeon and striped bass, on the other hand, do not
possess the same swimming ability. �If you have one bad dam or one bad
fishway, then the fish really aren�t moving up the river,� says
Theodore Castro-Santos, a research ecologist at USGS�s Conte
Anadromous Fish Research Center in Massachusetts. Castro-Santos said
that modern fishways are modeled after those installed on the
Bonneville Dam in the 1950s and have never been properly studied to
prove their effectiveness.

Even if fish do make it upstream to spawn, many have a hard time
getting back downstream. A 1994 study in Transactions of the American
Fisheries Society found that some fish species get killed attempting
to pass through turbines. �We�ve taken species that spawn more than
once in their lives and turned them into one-time spawners,� says John
Waldman, a professor of biology at Queens College, The City University
of New York, one of the authors of the new study.

The best solution to restoring fish populations, Waldman argues, is
dam removal. Past research on dam removal showed that it is effective
at restoring fish stocks and improving water quality. Studies on the
removal of Edwards Dam, a 280-meter-long hydroelectric dam on the
Kennebec River in Maine, found that fisheries have improved since its
take-down in 1999 and insect counts have increased, a good indicator
of improved water quality.

But dams are an important source of renewable energy, and removing
them is costly and can have sudden, dramatic impacts on ecosystems, as
this 2001 study in Hydrological Processes noted. Castro-Santos
believes that instead of removing dams, more robust research should be
conducted on fishways and the various fish species that move through
them. A 2012 study in River Research and Applications looked at how
the biological characteristics of different fish species determined
their propensity to use certain types of fishways. �In order to
evaluate the effectiveness of fishways, you need to know the behavior
of fish,� Castro-Santos says.

Waldman agrees that improved fishway technology could be the answer.
�If a dam can�t be taken down the best fishway possible is better than
any alternative,� he says.

For now the researchers hope that the study will help guide
authorities as they consider dam renewal licenses and as construction
begins on dam projects in the Amazon and Mekong rivers. �This is a
warning to the rest of the world where big dam projects are starting,�
Waldman says. �If it�s not working in the northeast U.S., it�s not
likely to work elsewhere.�

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Who guards the green guards?

Who guards the green guards?
21 February 2013
China Daily
By Wu Wenchong and Jiang Xueqing

The system tasked with safeguarding and assessing the possible
environmental damage caused by infrastructure and construction projects
is outmoded and badly in need of reform, as Wu Wenchong and Jiang
Xueqing report from Beijing.

'Smog" and "haze" have become buzzwords this winter after severe air
pollution choked China for several weeks. Equally severe are the
country's polluted surface water, ground water and farmland soil. In the
face of the worsening levels of pollution, experts have blamed the
problem on the disorderly discharge of all kinds of fumes and waterborne
waste. They come from factory processes and emissions as well as auto
exhausts, during China's 20-plus years of rapid industrial development.

The laws and regulations, which date to the 1970s, were designed to
tackle much lower levels of environmental pollution, and now insiders
say that only the Environmental Impact Assessment system - tasked with
assessing the potential environmental risk posed by any given project
before construction begins - has the ability to be the first line of
defense against pollution.

However, many experts believe that the system, instigated with the
intention of preventing pollution before it can occur, no longer serves
the purpose for which it was established, because the pass rate of
projects under assessment is almost 100 percent.

Experts said the key problems are that the EIA agencies are paid by
project owners, who only care about getting their projects passed, and
that the evaluations only begin after the type and scale of a project
have been formulated by other government departments.

They have suggested a number of ways the system can be reformed: Ironing
out the legal flaws related to the collection of public opinion;
ensuring that the EIA agencies are entirely independent of the
departments that supervise their reports; and placing greater emphasis
on the assessment of regional development plans, rather than on
individual projects.

In January, 88 EIA-qualified agencies were publicly admonished by the
Ministry of Environmental Protection. They accounted for 18 percent of
the 500 agencies whose activities were examined by the ministry between
June and October last year.

Two agencies had their EIA qualification canceled and a further eight
saw the range of their qualification reduced. The other 78 were ordered
to rectify and improve their performances within a specified period.

The investigation uncovered a number of problems, including the poor
overall quality of both agency personnel and the assessment documents
they produced. More worryingly, some agencies were discovered to have
included inaccurate data in their assessments.

The ministry's move was seen as a signal of the government's
determination to purge the chaos within the EIA system. Nationwide,
there are approximately 1,170 agencies; 190 of them are classified as
Grade A, while the others are Grade B.

An agency's grade is determined by the number of EIA engineers it
employs: Grade A agencies write assessment reports on projects that can
only be approved by the ministry itself, and Grade B agencies write
reports about much smaller projects, those approved by environmental
departments at provincial level, said Wang Shoubing, an EIA engineer at
Fudan University in Shanghai.

'Forged data'

The Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences was one of the eight
agencies the ministry downgraded from Grade A to Grade B. Its demotion
attracted high-profile media attention in January after a group of
environmental NGOs sent an open letter to the ministry and the media.

The letter claimed that the academy had used forged data during the EIA
process for a waste-incineration power generation project in
Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, and requested that its EIA qualification be

The report, completed in March 2009, claimed that 100 copies of a
questionnaire had been handed out to villagers living close to the
project, and that 99 of the respondents supported construction of the

However, many villagers balked at the report. Pan Zhizhong, a resident
of Panguanying village, one of the four covered by the process, said
that in the wake of the consultation process, the villagers discovered
that of the 99 people who supposedly supported the project, 15 did not
exist, one had died before the questionnaire was issued, 14 had moved
away many years before, and one hadn't been seen for eight years after
he disappeared while facing criminal charges. A further 65 claimed they
had never been given the questionnaire and therefore couldn't have
signed it, nor did they support the project.

Although the academy had been downgraded by the ministry, the demotion
was unrelated to the Qinhuangdao project. According to information
provided by the ministry, the academy was downgraded simply because the
number of EIA engineers it employed was below the threshold for a Grade
A agency, not because of any suggestion of misconduct.

In its Feb 10 reply to the NGOs, the ministry said "there is no good
reason" to cancel the agency's EIA qualification because the
distribution and collection of the questionnaire was implemented by the
local town government, as requested by the project owner, and that the
academy was only responsible for the design of the questionnaire and the
compilation of the final report, not the results of the questionnaire.

"The letter seemed to acknowledge that the local government and project
owner should be responsible for the collection of public opinion via the
questionnaire. But the law doesn't highlight any legal responsibility
when the raw data provided by the project owner, including the
canvassing of public opinion, were found to be fake," said one of the
authors of the open letter, Mao Da, a PhD student at Beijing Normal
University, who is an expert in solid-waste management.

The collection of public opinion is one of the weakest aspects of the
assessment process, and also the most controversial. The EIA system was
proposed in 1979, but not formally legalized until 2002. Public
participation in the process was not enshrined in law until 2006.

Wang Qi, head of the Institute of Environmental Engineering Technology
at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said the
requirement for public participation in the current Environmental Impact
Assessment Law is too simple and imprecise.

He said that despite the claims that the data had been skewed in this
case, the general situation has improved over the years. "Nowadays, the
level of public support suggested by the final report is usually more
than 60 percent. But years ago, the figure was always as high as 90
percent," said Wang. "It must not be too low, though, otherwise it's not
possible to move on with the other assessment procedures."
The ministry's reply to the open letter emphasized that a revision of
the requirement of public participation is being considered.

All lights are green

"Most of the projects under assessment will be passed eventually, it's
always just a matter of time," said Zhao Zhangyuan, a former member of
an expert team at the ministry's environmental and engineering appraisal

He said the fundamental problem is that the EIA agencies do not provide
a public service, but are paid by the project owners. "For them, the EIA
is nothing but a necessary step in getting their projects approved and
they only care about getting a positive assessment. It's like a lawyer
defending a client - you take the job, you get the money, but you
certainly don't try to prove your client is guilty."

Moves to salvage the deeply flawed system have been under way since
2010. Wang said all levels of the environmental department are
responsible for the evaluation of the assessment reports, but as most
EIA agencies are affiliated to the department, a large question mark
hangs over the impartiality of the system.

While the goal of the reform is to separate the EIA agencies from the
environmental department, experts said the situation has barely changed
in the three years since the changes were proposed.

Xia Jun, who has been a public interest lawyer in Beijing for 13 years,
argued that the EIA agencies should apply a "credit system".

"A company's previous performance in environmental protection is not
taken into account under the current EIA system," he said. "If companies
have violated the environmental laws in the past, the requirements to
get their projects passed by the EIA should be tougher than usual. If
that were the case, companies would be more careful about environmental
issues, because their past actions may affect their future."

Key projects

More than 50 key hydropower projects are listed in the country's
Five-Year Plan for energy development (2011-2015), released by the State
Council, China's cabinet, on Jan 23.

One of those is the controversial Xiaonanhai hydropower project in
Chongqing, southwest China, which may have a serious impact on the
future of rare fish - including the Paddlefish from the Polyodontidae
family, the Largemouth Bronze Gudgeon (Coreius guichenoti), and the
Chinese suckerfish (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) - that use the Yangtze River
as a route to their annual spawning grounds.

In 2000, a crucial conservation zone on the upper reaches of the Yangtze
River was built to ease the ecological impact of the Three Gorges Dam
project, but it has twice been reduced in size to provide more space for
the dams, practically destroying the original purpose of the zone.

Experts perceived the release of the energy plan as a green light for
the hydropower projects, although the results of the EIAs have yet to be
made public.

The situation corresponds to a problem pinpointed by Chai Fahe, deputy
head of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences. In a
paper published in 2000, Chai commented that China's EIA system is
always "in a passive position".

"The assessment always takes place after a development plan has somehow
gained government approval, which means the EIA system can only work to
come up with catch-up plans to control the potential environmental
risks," wrote Chai.

Although the EIA system now covers assessment of the planning of
development projects, the situation is still basically unchanged,
according to Xia.

"In China, lawsuits about environmental issues all focus on individual
projects. A regional plan has never been subject to a lawsuit, something
that is normal in the West," he said. "Planning that takes environmental
issues into account should be the first line of defense, rather than
environmental impact assessment."

Contact the writers at and

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Botswana wants fewer Chinese firms to receive state contracts

Khama wants fewer Chinese firms to receive state contracts
by Nicholas Kotch
Business Day (Botswana), 20 February 2013

CHINESE companies may not be collecting many more government contracts
in Botswana in the near future if Ian Khama has any say in the matter.

As he is the president of the thinly populated and resource-rich country
and since the party he leads is dominant in parliament, the prospects
for Chinese bidders for infrastructure tenders are not looking good.

"You know, we have had some bad experiences with Chinese companies in
this country," Mr Khama said in a recent interview.

"The best way I can put it is that we are very, very particular now; we
are going to be looking very carefully at any company that originates
from China in providing construction services of any nature," he told
Business Day in Gaborone.

Power generation is the key sector where China is not flavour of the
month in the office of the president. Frequent power cuts are affecting
everyone, from business and retail to ordinary people.

The disruption is not what the Batswana have known during the past
decades of rapid growth built on diamonds, agriculture and tourism.
Power shortages will not attract the large investment in railways, roads
and mining that are planned.

Mr Khama laid the blame for the chronic shortage of supply at one door.
"Right now, as we speak today, we should be totally self-sufficient if
we hadn't been let down by the Chinese…. Those generation plants at
Morupule B should have all been up and running by the end of last year —
but only one of the four is operating," he said. "We have started really
tightening up on the way Chinese companies deliver on government contracts."

The Chinese embassy in Gaborone did not respond promptly to a request
for reaction to Mr Khama's views. However, relations were excellent as
recently as 2009, a year after he became president, when Chinese firms
were running 18 construction projects in Botswana, including stadiums,
schools, hospitals, airports and public buildings.

In the same year, agreements were signed for the $1.6bn expansion of
Morupule B, financed by the Botswana government, and involving the
installation of four 150MW coal-fired units. On the basis that
everything would be up-and-running on schedule last year, Mr Khama said,
Botswana did not negotiate extra supply from South Africa's Eskom.

"Now we have had to go on our knees, begging Eskom to continue supplying
us even though they have their own challenges down in South Africa.

"They have been very generous and understanding but they cannot
guarantee an uninterrupted supply," he said, adding that he expected the
months-long shortage to be over in a few weeks.

Yet the power issue clearly rankles, perhaps because it does not project
the image — forged by Mr Khama's late father, Sir Seretse Khama — of a
quietly efficient African country where almost everything works.

Judging by Mr Khama's comments, it will be a big ask at the moment for a
Chinese company to get a slice of lucrative future rail projects. Some
of Botswana's enormous untapped coal deposits are destined to be carried
on new railways to ports in Namibia and Mozambique.

Mr Khama said if the rail projects are to be financed by private
companies, the government will have no say in the choice of
subcontractors. "But certainly, if government had anything do with it we
would be urging caution to those private companies … to ensure that you
don't have the scenario that we have experienced here, where companies
from there (China) put up a structure and after some time you find it
falling apart and needing a lot of maintenance long before maintenance
should be due," he said. "The workmanship is not the best."

Mr Khama's views can be heard across Africa but he is definitely not
with the official programme — the one endorsed by a majority of African
leaders and enthusiastically by the South African government. Bilateral
trade between Africa and China has risen swiftly, reaching $166bn last
year, according to official data in Beijing last week.

Is Mr Khama in a minority of one when China is discussed by African

"They probably won't say it publicly, but when I've spoken to others
they've expressed frustrations as well," he said. "People feel that
China is now the second-biggest economy in the world. You say things
like that, do you really want to upset such a huge power?

"But there's no point having a huge power investing in a country if
those investments at the end of the day don't do you any good."

He complained about what he considers excessive migration of Chinese to
take jobs that should be done by Batswana. He has asked the immigration
department to get him accurate numbers on the subject.

"We accept China's goods. But they don't have to export their population
to sell us those goods. That we can quite ably do. They will crowd us out."

© BDlive 2013

This is International Rivers' mailing list on China's global footprint, and particularly Chinese investment in
international dam projects.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Green around the renewable gills

Green around the renewable gills
18 February 2013
China Daily
By Haibing Ma and Wanqing Zhou

China recently announced that it would join the International Renewable
Energy Agency. China is a global leader in terms of installed capacity
and investment in clean energy, though the acknowledgement of its status
may come as a surprise to some, given the recent headlines on the
country's air pollution. But in 2012, China invested $68 billion to
develop renewable energies, 55 percent more than US investments, making
it the largest clean energy investor in the world.

What is important for energy sustainability, however, is not only the
scale of clean energy products and the amount of investment, but also
the environmentally friendly approach through which the sector is built
and operated. Although clean energy is certainly not to blame for a
large part of the pollution problems, China's efforts to rapidly develop
renewable energy have generated some environmental problems.
The lack of effective environmental policymaking and regulation has led
to unsustainable practices in China's renewable energy sector that have
cast a shadow on the country's "top spot" numbers.

While the production of renewable energy technologies constitutes a
critical building block of a sustainable future, if it is not managed
correctly, it can have some negative environmental impacts and sometimes
can even create hazardous pollution.

Hydropower is China's largest renewable energy resource. Without
incorporating sufficient ecological consideration into basin-level
planning and engineering design (like fish ladders), however, dams built
for hydropower projects can disrupt the natural flow of water that
sustains balanced aquatic ecosystems. The country's heavily-dammed river
system has led to a decrease or even extinction of some fish and
cetacean species.

If wind turbines are not installed at proper sites, their blades can
accidentally injure birds and bats. Wind farms, therefore, should be set
up far away from the migration paths of birds and areas with high
population density. But there are no traceable records to show that
China has been conducting such impact assessments before planning new
wind farms.

Similar cases related to pollution in China's clean manufacturing and
renewable energy sector are still being reported, revealing loopholes in
regulation, especially in enforcement.

In 2010, only 77 percent of China's wind turbines were connected to
power grids. In 2011, despite the considerable growth in total installed
capacity and the increase in turbines connected to grids (62.63
gigawatts and 47.84 gigawatts, respectively), the ratio remained the
same. The winter of 2012 witnessed a great curtailment in wind. As a
result, turbine idling is spreading like the flu, and many component
manufacturers are cutting their staff, that is, if they haven't already
suspended production.

In addition, the estimated proportion of solar polyvinyl installed
capacity connected to grids is 72 percent (calculated with data from the
State Electricity Regulatory Commission and Solidiance).

Various aspects have contributed to such a gap between installed
renewable generation capacity and actual units connected to grids in
China. Without proper guidance, blind investment fueled by renewable
subsidies from the central government has saturated the wind and solar

Local authorities' pursuit of renewable energy in some instances has
reached absurd levels. As early as 2009, solar polyvinyl was used to
justify land acquisitions in Xing'an, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region,
resulting in farm lands turning into empty-shell factories. Until last
June, untrained villagers pretended to work on the assembly lines when
government officials visited the facility.

This waste of not only electricity generation, but also of natural and
human capital, further drives the industry away from true sustainability.

If not planned well with strict regulation, stringent implementation,
and reliable technologies, the establishment of a renewable energy
industry in China will not necessarily ensure true sustainability. Every
step, from the industry's lifecycle to the institutional regulatory
capacity, matters for the overall sustainability of the industry.

The good news is that the Chinese leadership is moving forward, though
slowly and cautiously, to enhance regulatory enforcement, improve
transparency and encourage media supervision.

Haibing Ma is the China program manager at the Worldwatch Institute, and
Wanqing Zhou is a research intern with the program.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Washington Post: Power-Hungry Brazil Builds Dams, and More Dams, Across the Amazon

Power-Hungry Brazil Builds Dams, and More Dams, Across the Amazon

By Juan Forero, Washington Post
Saturday, February 9, 2013

MUTUM PARANA, Brazil � When it is completed in 2015, the Jirau
hydroelectric dam will span five miles across the Madeira River,
feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world and hold
as much concrete as 47 towers the size of the Empire State Building.

And then there are the power lines, draped along 1,400 miles of
forests and fields to carry electricity from here in the center of
South America to Brazil�s urban nerve center, Sao Paulo.

Still, it won�t be enough.

The dam and the Santo Antonio complex that is being built a few miles
downstream will provide just 5 percent of what government energy
planners say the country will need in the next 10 years. So Brazil is
building more dams, many more, courting controversy by locating the
vast majority of them in the world�s largest and most biodiverse forest.

�The investment to build these plants is very high, and they are to be
put in a region which is an icon for environmental preservation, the
Amazon,� said Paulo Domingues, energy planning director for the
Ministry of Mines and Energy. �So that has worldwide repercussions.�

Between now and 2021, the energy ministry�s building schedule will be
feverish: Brazilian companies and foreign conglomerates will put up 34
sizable dams in an effort to increase the country�s capacity to
produce energy by more than 50 percent.

The Brazil projects have received less attention than China�s dam-
building spree, which has plugged up canyons and bankrolled
hydroelectric projects far from Asia.

But Brazil is undertaking one of the world�s largest public works
projects, one that will cost more than $150 billion and harness the
force of this continent�s great rivers. The objective is to help the
country of 199 million people achieve what Brazilian leaders call its
destiny: becoming a modern and efficient world-class economy with an
ample supply of energy for office towers, assembly lines, refineries
and iron works.

�Brazil is a country that�s growing, developing, and it needs energy,�
said Eduardo de Melo Pinto, president of Santo Antonio Energia. �And
the potential in energy production in Brazil is located, for the most
part, in Amazonia. And that�s why this is important for this project
to be developed.�

Jirau, Santo Antonio and other projects, though, have until now
generated more tension than electricity, raising questions that range
from their environmental impact to whether future generations will be
saddled with gigantic debt.

International Rivers, a U.S.-based environmental group that has
tracked government agencies involved in the dam building, says plans
call for 168 dams to be completed by 2021. Most are small dams that
will be used to regulate water or to power silos, mineral extraction
facilities or industrial complexes. But whether the dams are large or
small, homesteaders and Indian leaders say they will cause
irreversible changes in a forest that plays a vital role in absorbing
the world�s carbon emissions and regulating its climate.

Across Brazil, rivers are being diverted. Canals and dikes are being
built. Roads are being paved, and blocks of concrete are being laid
across a network of waterways that provides a fifth of the world�s
fresh water.

And the big dams will inundate at least 2,500 square miles of forests
and fields � an area larger than the state of Delaware.

Environmentalists say the dams are a throwback, not the kind of
projects a modern, democratic country should be aggressively pursuing.
They say Brazil should focus instead on developing wind and solar
energy while overhauling existing plants and instituting other reforms
to reduce electrical demand.

�This is a sort of 1950s development mentality that often proceeds in
a very authoritarian way, in terms of not respecting human rights, not
respecting environmental law, not really looking at the alternatives,�
said Brent Millikan, Amazon program director in Brazil for
International Rivers.

Lives torn asunder

In a swath of Rondonia state, along the BR-364 highway, several
residents said the dams had uprooted communities of subsistence
farmers and fishermen, unalterably changing their way of life for the

Telma Santos Pinto, 53, said she had to leave her home of 36 years,
receiving $18,000 as compensation from the companies building Jirau.

�The compensation was very, very low,� she said. �And we were
obligated to accept that.�

Her town, Mutum Parana, was left underwater. Most of her neighbors
moved into Nova �Mutum � or New Mutum � a town of 1,600 homes,
schools, churches and stores put up by the builders of Jirau.

�We were a community, all of us united,� she said. �All of us helped
each other.�

Such laments come up against the hard economic realities that Brazil

By 2021, the economy is projected to expand by 63 percent, the energy
ministry says. Hundreds of thousands of people are receiving
electricity for the first time each year, and a ballooning middle
class is consuming more. Economic planners also predict that Brazil
could become the world�s fifth-largest economy in a few years.

No Brazilian leader is more focused on that objective than President
Dilma Rousseff, a former 1970s-era guerrilla who was energy minister
in her predecessor�s government. She says that Brazil is �privileged�
to have so much water and that it is logical for the country to rely
heavily on hydropower.

She counters environmentalists by arguing that Brazil�s energy mix �
the country also relies on solar, wind and biomass, all renewable
energy sources � is among the world�s cleanest.

�Economic growth is not contrary to the best environmental practices,�
Rousseff said at the inauguration of one huge dam in October. �We are
proving that it�s possible to increase electrical generation and at
the same time respect the environment.�

Priority projects

To be sure, the footprints of the new dams will be smaller than those
of the past.

The proposed Belo Monte project on the Xingu, a huge dam that has
galvanized environmentalists and Hollywood luminaries, will flood
fives times less land than the 29-year-old Tucurui dam, �Brazil�s
second-biggest, said Domingues, the energy ministry planner.

The Jirau dam includes ladders to help migrating fish make it upstream
and conservation programs for animal and bird life.

Gil Maranh�o, the Jirau dam�s communications and business development
director, said �the real deforestation is maybe zero� because the
flooding has taken out cattle ranches and small subsistence farms
rather than large swaths of forest.

He said the $7.7 billion project has created jobs and prompted the
consortium building the dam to spend $600 million on social programs
and housing for the 350 families that had to be relocated.

�The impacted population move from slums without electricity, without
sewage, and we put them in new cities built for them,� he said,
pointing to Nova Mutum.

Jose Gomes, a civil engineer who is the project�s institutional
director, said rigid requirements ensured that the environmental
impacts of Jirau and Santo Antonio were minimized. Building dams, he
said, here and elsewhere, is a major priority that will not be derailed.

�Brazil needs two hydroelectric dams like this to provide power each
and every year,� Gomes said. �We�re going to have energy guaranteed.�

Cranes stretched into the sky and steel reinforcements were going up.
Although the turbines were not yet operating, the power houses were
firmly installed. Upriver, more than 100 square miles of land were

It was clear that the mighty Madeira, the biggest tributary of the
Amazon, had been tamed.

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Two articles: China in the Upper Trishuli A Dam (Nepal) and Kariba Dam (Zimbabwe/Zambia)

Agitating workers of Upper Trishuli withdraw protests
My Republic
14 February 2013

TRISHULI, Feb. 14: The workers of Upper Trishuli Hydropower Project
Third 'A' have withdrawn their agitations from today after the
contractor agreed to meet the workers' demands within a week.

The workers agreed to return to work after the China Gezhouba Group
Company Ltd, the contractor of the project, promised to meet the
agitating workers' demands within a week, said Chandra Bahadur Tamang, a
worker in the project.

The workers were obstructing the construction works for three days
putting different demands including wage hike, facilities of government
leave and others.

The 60 MW project is being constructed in Trisuli river where the dam
lies in Dandagaon VDC of Rasuwa and powerhouse in Manakamana VDC of
Nuwakot district.

The run of the river project is being developed at the cost of US
dollars 89 million.


Zimbabwe: Kariba Power Project Set to Begin This Year
The Herald
14 FEBRUARY 2013

THE construction of Kariba South Hydropower Station is likely to begin
later this year, Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma
said yesterday. A Chinese firm, Sino Hydro, won the contract ahead of
five other bidders to build two units at Kariba with generating capacity
of 300 megawatts at a cost of US$368 million.

"The contractors are working on a detailed design (of the project) and
they have indicated that this may take six to eight months, and then the
actual construction will follow," said Minister Mangoma in an interview.

On the financial aspect, he said the funds for the project would be
available by the end of next month.

"We are working on the financial closure which should be ready by end of

The project will be completed in four years.

The contractor will design the plant, procure materials and build the
plant directly or sub-contract some of the work.

Minister Mangoma said bids for Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion
were being analysed. The two remaining bidders are from China, including
Sino Hydro and China National Machinery Corporation.

Sino Hydro has submitted a US$1,4 billion bid for the expansion of
Hwange for an additional 600 megawatts.

Zimbabwe is currently generating 1 400MW against demand of 2 200MW at peak.

Power shortage has spawned rolling power cuts to industrial, commercial
and domestic consumers of electricity. Fears abound that the shortage
would worsen as economic activity improves.

Industry is running at an average of 44,5 percent production capacity
due to a number of factors, chief among them lack of power and funding.
Industrial capacity stood at about 57 percent last year.

This is International Rivers' mailing list on China's global footprint, and particularly Chinese investment in
international dam projects.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Worldwatch Institute report says global development of hydro slow in 2011

New report by Worldwatch Institute is described below. Here's the

Report says worldwide development of hydroelectric power slow in 2011

New research from the Worldwatch Institute suggests that growth in
hydroelectric power development tapered in 2011, according to a
recently published report.

The institution said that worldwide consumption and installed capacity
of hydropower have increased steadily since 2003, though the global
installed capacity of hydro projects increased just 970 GW -- or 1.6%
-- in 2011 from the previous year.

The report also noted that geothermal growth has also slowed, dipping
to below a 1% increase for the first time since 2002.

Both forms of power generation still offer distinct advantages,
however, according to Worldwatch Institute research associate Evan

"Despite the recent slowdown in growth, the overall market for
hydropower and geothermal power is increasing in part because these
two sources are not subject to the variability in generation that
plagues other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar,"
Musolino said. "The greater reliability of hydro and geothermal can
thus be harnessed to provide reliable baseload power."

According to the report, the bulk of global capacity remains
concentrated in five countries with China leading the way with 212 GW
of installed hydroelectric capacity. Brazil follows (82.2 GW), then
the United States (79 GW), Canada (76.4 GW) and Russia (46 GW).

Hydropower contributes less to the overall percent of energy usage in
the Middle East, though that region experienced the greatest growth in
hydroelectric consumption at almost 22%. North America followed, with
an increase slightly below 14%. Meanwhile, usage in Europe and Eurasia
fell by almost 9%, and by 0.6% in the Asia Pacific region.

Still, "hydropower continues to be one of the most cost-effective
renewable energy generation sources," Worldwatch Institute said, with
typical costs in the U.S. ranging from $.02-.13 per kWh for existing
grid-connected hydroelectric plants and $.05-.10 per kWh for new hydro
projects. Meanwhile, micro hydro projects generate at about $.05-.40
per kWh.

Despite Worldwatch Institute's report, an article published in the
April 2012 edition of Hydro Review magazine shows continued growth in
the hydropower sector through at least the end of the decade.

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Commentary: Chinese checkers

Chinese checkers
Himanshu Thakkar
Hindustan Times, February 12, 2013

The news that China is planning to build three more dams on the Yarlung
Tshangpo (as Siang, the main tributary of the Brahmaputra is known in
Tibet) has lead to a fresh interest in the issue. Before I elaborate,
here are some facts: out of Brahmaputra's total catchment area of
5,80,000 sq km, China has 50.5%, India 33.6%, the rest almost equally in
Bhutan and Bangladesh. Out of 2,880 km length of the river, 1,625 km
flows in Tibet, 918 km in India and 337 km in Bangladesh. A 510 MW dam
called Zangmu has been under construction since November 2010 and China
has built six other projects on the tributaries of the Tsangpo. It has
now declared that it is going to build 640 MW dams at Dagu, Jiexu (7 km
downstream of Dagu and 11 km upstream of Zangmu) and 320 MW at Jiacha.
Worryingly Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, said the $1.2
billion Zangmu project "can also be used for flood control and irrigation".

For a project to be useful for irrigation and flood control, it needs to
store and divert water. The Zangmu and the other hydropower projects
will have adverse downstream impacts. Considering China's past record,
any assurances from them of being responsible towards downstream
countries do not hold water.

There is a tendency among supporters of dams to say that
run-of-the-river (RoR) projects, like the one that is being built at
Zangmu, are environment friendly. But the truth is such projects have
several adverse impacts: submergence, displacement, deforestation and
destruction of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, to name a few.

The Chinese projects on the Tsangpo will have significant impact on
India: changed water and silt flow patterns, increased flood and erosion
capacity of river and adverse impact on the biodiversity in the river
that has close links with the livelihoods of lakhs.

India has been less than firm with China on these issues. The government
informed Parliament in the past that China has not disclosed the reasons
for destructive floods in Himachal Pradesh in August 2000 and in
Arunachal Pradesh in June 2000, even though floods in both cases
originated from China. In fact, to say the truth, India's treatment of
impacts of its own such projects on downstream communities or those of
our neighbours has been far from inspiring.

One mechanism to tackle China could have been the United Nations
Convention on Non-Navigation Use of Water. But India did a disservice to
its cause by abstaining from voting in favour during the debate for the
convention and not ratifying it later. The only plausible course for
India now is to push for a water-sharing treaty with China.

Himanshu Thakkar is with the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People
The views expressed by the author are personal

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rwanda: Hydropower Project to Displace 680 Households
East African Business Week (Kampala)

Rwanda: Hydropower Project to Displace 680 Households

By Kenneth Agutamba,
11 February 2013

Kigali � Provisional results from the project development studies for
the construction of a hydro-electric power dam on the Akagera River
along Rwanda's international border with Tanzania indicate that at
least 640 households will be affected by the works.

The households to be affected are mostly on the Rwandan side while
others are on the Tanzanian side with Burundi showed to be in the
clear of any human displacements.

The Rusumo hydroelectric project is a multi-state venture involving
Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania and is expected to cost the three
countries approximately US$440million to produce 80megga watts of
electricity to be shared among the states.

Stake holders of the project met in Kigali for a two day consultative
meeting in which experts with an international consultant ARTELIA,
presented their provisional findings on the project's Environment and
Social Impact Reports (ESIA) as well as proposed Relocation Action
Plans (RAP).

Works on the construction of the power dam are expected to start in
the first quarter of 2014 (if stake holders approve the provisional
findings of the consultant ARTELIA) and are expected to last five years.

Antoine Sendama, the project's regional coordinator told EABW that
funds are ready to be released by the main sponsors of the undertaking
which is expected to drastically improve the power supply needs of the
three countries.

The World Bank Group is expected to fund the main budget of the
construction works of the dam in a loan whose repayment responsibility
will be shared by the three states involved.

Other funders of the project include the African Development Bank
(AfDB) and the support from the Netherlands.

During consultations and discussions of the provisional findings by
the experts, stakeholders from the eight-state Nile Basin Initiative
called for fast tracking of the project whose original idea was mooted
in the mid 1970s.

Experts emphasized the need to resettle and compensate all locals in
the affected area before any activities are flagged off.

Claudia Eckhardt, a social and resettlement expert with ARTELIA says
up to 244 households will be displaced during the actual construction
period of the dam with 111 Rwandan and 133 Tanzanian households. These
will lose agricultural land and residency, commercial structures and
brick laying grounds for households operating in the marshlands.

Most of those to be affected are within a range of 5km from the
project an area which is expected to become permanently flooded after
the works with Eckhardt explaining that arable marshland of Ruhuha
village in Rwanda and Kabuye sub-village in Tanzania will be flooded
rendering the areas un inhabitable.

According to the provisional results, a total of 107.6 ha of arable
marshland will be affected in Rwanda rendering negative livelihood
impacts on Rwandans living in at least six villages affecting about
351 households of which 43 households (12.3% of the total marshland
users) are entirely depending on marshland cultivation, with no land

The land to be lost represents a reported 31% of the total land
available to marshland users in the affected communities of Rwanda.

Most of these locals told researchers that they grow crops in the
marchlands such as tomatoes, maize and others in months when the land
isn't flooded earning on average between RWF200, 000 and RWF300, 000
per annum.

On the other hand, two villages of Tanzania, Kabuye and Kyenda will
lose 79.6 hectares of marshland to the project which is about 26% of
the total land cultivated by marshland users in the affected
communities of Tanzania and it will affect at least 90 households.

While actual construction will result in the displacement of 244
households on both Rwanda and Tanzania side, operation related works
on the dam will affect 441 households (351 in Rwanda and 90 households
in Tanzania) mainly losing arable marshland for cultivation but
without necessarily being relocated.

A total of 462 Rwandan households will be affected by both
construction and operation activities of the hydroelectric dam
compared to 223 Tanzanian households.

Both countries have already instituted working resettlement committees
that will help undertake compensation activities.

Compensation of all households affected is expected to cost more than
US$10million. All households bound to be affected by the development
indicated their wish to be compensated with cash though stake holders
are understood to be considering options that don't involve cash
handouts to avoid possible misuse.

Experts estimate that compensating house owners will range between US
$5000 to US$16000 depending on the type of structure.

Those to lose businesses will be entitled to cash compensation of loss
of immovable assets at full replacement value plus all necessary
transaction costs paid separately as well as compensation of lost
income for the period of time required to re-establish the business
and restore associated income (about three months).

Similar plans have been proposed by experts on how governments can
compensate other categories of people involved.

"We just hope the compensation can be effected before work on the
project starts," said ARTELIA's social and resettlement expert Claudia

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Campaigners re-ignite Nu River dam debate

Campaigners re-ignite Nu River dam debate
By Deng Quanlun
11 February 2013

China's energy plans for the 12th Five-Year Plan, the country's
development blueprint to 2015, include restarting hydroelectric dam
plans on the Nu River, a process that stalled almost a decade ago due to
fears for the pristine ecosystem of this part of south-west China.

Though the construction programme was shelved back in 2004, advocates
didn't give up: the local government has been making annual lobbying
trips to Beijing to muster support for Nu River dams from the central
authorities, according to informed sources.

Over the last two years, the company that would actually build the
plants - Yunnan Huadian Nu River Development Company, a subsidiary of
Chinese energy giant Huadian Power - has held numerous meetings about
pushing forward preliminary work.

Today, development of the Nu once again looks like a done deal. But
relocation of local people set to lose their homes, environmental
protection and potential geological risks remain major stumbling blocks.
The row between developers and conservationists is set to continue.

Wen Jiabao shelves dam plans

Rising in the Dangla Mountains on the Tibetan plateau, the Nu River
flows through Tibet into Yunnan and then onto Burma, where it is known
as the Salween, before finally reaching the Indian Ocean. Within China
it flows for more than 2,000 kilometres, passing through a steep gorge
known as the Grand Canyon of the East. Stretches of the river fall
within the Three Parallel Rivers area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The
Nu is the only major river in China still free of large dams.

The peace of the Nu River was first shattered 10 years ago. In August
2003, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top
economic planner, met to approve Yunnan's scheme for hydroelectric
development on the middle and lower reaches of the river. Plans included
construction of two reservoirs and 13 dams. Total electricity generation
would be at least 21.32 gigawatts.

The plans immediately met fierce opposition. Representatives of the then
State Environmental Protection Agency (now the Ministry of Environmental
Protection) attending the meeting refused to sign off on the plan. Of
China's rivers, only the Nu and Yarlung Zangbo had not suffered
significant ecological damage, they said, and as such should be retained
as examples and models rather than being developed.

In September the same year, three key reasons for opposing the damming
of the Nu River were presented at a meeting held by SEPA. They were:
hydroelectric development and the construction of dam cascades would go
against the principle of protecting the Three Parallel Rivers heritage
site; caution should be used with anything that could threaten the
outstanding natural beauty of the Nu River valley; and local species and
culture required protection.

Campaign groups including Green SOS and Friends of Nature pointed out
that the Three Parallel Rivers area accounts for less than 0.4% of
China's territory, but is home to 25% of its higher animal and plant
species, including 77 state protected species, making it a globally
significant repository of genetic resources.

In February 2004, citing social concern and disagreements over
environmental protection, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao ordered a "cautious
and scientific approach". With that, hydroelectric development of the Nu
River was shelved.

Geologists raise earthquake fears

Debate over the matter has continued - it even featured in a question in
the 2008 examination for entry to China's civil service.

In February 2011, four geologists wrote to the State Council leadership
opposing the damming of the Nu River for geological reasons, again
bringing the case to public attention. Signatories included Xu Daoyi of
the China Earthquake Administration, Sun Wenpeng of the China National
Nuclear Corporation's Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology and
Li Dongxu, professor at the China University of Geosciences.

Their language was blunt: "The Nu River is on an active fault with
frequent earthquakes, and in a landslide-prone area subject to frequent
downpours�Due to high seismic and geological risks, large dams should
not be built here."

This presented a new challenge. In the past, opposition had always been
about the environment - this was the first mention of geological
dangers. The subsequent earthquake in Japan meant the central government
took the geologists concerns seriously. Yu Xiaogang of Yunnan NGO Green
Watershed told Time Weekly that Wen Jiabao ordered in-depth research
into the geological and seismic risks of the Nu River.

But a March 2011 seminar on the seismic risks of Nu River dams held by
the China Society for Hydropower Engineering and the China Dam
Commission came to a different conclusion.

Xu Xiwei, deputy head of the China Earthquake Administration's Institute
of Geology said: "Dams will collapse if they are built over a fault and
an earthquake strikes. But in reality, if you make sure the dams don't
straddle a fault and are built in earthquake-resilience, hydroelectric
development is safe."

Joint research by the Hydropower and Water Resources Planning & Design
General Institute and the China Earthquake Administration's Institute of
Earthquake Science found that, historically, earthquakes on the middle
and lower reaches of the Nu have been rare and minor. Compared with the
complex geology of much of south-west China, the Nu River basin is
actually relatively stable, it concluded.

Local government pushes for development

Despite the controversy, the local government has for years been keen
for hydroelectric development. The Nu River prefecture is the country's
only Lisu nationality autonomous prefecture. Local party secretary Duan
Yueqing says more than 70% of the area's 500,000 residents live in
poverty, making it one of the poorest parts of China.

But in resources it is one of the richest. Its hydroelectric potential
is world-class, accounting for 47% of the province's total and making it
one of the top six hydroelectric sites in China. The Nu is said to be
China's fifth largest river, with over 20 gigawatts of hydroelectric
potential in its middle and lower reaches alone.

It is also home to huge mineral wealth. Almost 300 deposits of 28
different ores, including zinc, lead, copper, gold and tungsten, have
been identified here. Within one 3.2-square kilometre area alone, there
are thought to be 1,432 tonnes of lead and zinc, worth around 100
billion yuan, making it China's biggest confirmed lead and zinc deposit
to date.

In early 2007, Nu River Prefecture set upon an economic strategy centred
on becoming a nationally important centre of metal extraction and
hydroelectricity. The local government chiefs saw hydroelectricity as
the quickest route to results.

In March 2008, the NDRC published its plans for development of renewable
energy during the 11th Five-Year Plan, including hydroelectric plants at
Liuku and Saige on the Nu River. There was opposition on environmental
grounds, and the environmental authorities are still to approve the
plans. But since 2003, preliminary work for dams on the Nu has continued.

In 2008, work quietly started on the Liuku dam, despite not having state
approval. Residents in upstream villages were moved to "socialist new
villages". Today, the gate to the Liuku site is locked and work has
halted, but the temporary dyke which will allow construction of the main
dam is complete.

In late January 2011, Shi Lishan, deputy head of the New and Renewable
Energy Office at the National Energy Administration (NEA), said that
preliminary work, particularly research and design, for Nu River dams
had continued. While there was no exact or complete programme in place,
the Nu River would be developed, he said. This was the first time the
NEA had taken a clear stance on the issue.

Last month, the State Council Office published plans for energy
development during the 12th Five-Year Plan. These included full
hydroelectric development drives on the middle and lower reaches of the
Jinsha and Lancang, the Yalong, the Dadu, the upper reaches of the
Yellow River and the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo, along with an
orderly start to development of the upper reaches of the Jinsha, Lancang
and Nu.

An employee of Huadian's Nu River subsidiary said as yet there is no
timetable for work to start on the four dams it is planning - that will
depend on state approval - but that "work is certain to start at Liuku

Campaigners object

Hydroelectric development of the Nu River looks like a done deal, but
Yunnan's Energy Bureau remains circumspect. An official at the bureau
told Times Weekly that "the provincial government regards this as very
important, but is also very cautious," going on to admit that "plans are
just plans - carrying them out will still be very difficult, and there's
huge pressure over environmental concerns."

Doubting voices are still heard. Environmental campaigner Yu Xiaogang
said announcements about restarting the programme were made hastily: "It
was done so things would be decided before the Lianghui [China's annual
parliamentary session in March]. Public opinion wasn't sought, in
contravention of rules on openness of information."

Yu said that he and other Chinese green NGOs would carry out their own
investigation in mid-February, to "gain a deeper understanding to the
background to the decisions and what forces were at work behind the
scenes, in order to then make further appeals and raise doubts."

Noted water conservationist Weng Lida does not oppose the development of
the Nu River per se, but urged prudence: "How to develop it reasonably,
appropriately, scientifically, that's something that needs huge caution.
We still don't have a solid foundation of environmental and risk

This article was first published in Time Weekly

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