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Yangtze Blockage Completed

The world's biggest hydroelectric project can reportedly begin operating next year.

November 07, 2002|From Reuters

BEIJING — China finished blocking the Yangtze River at the Three Gorges Dam on Wednesday, paving the way for the world's biggest hydroelectricity and flood-control project to come on line next year, state media said.

The controversial $25-billion dam is forcing the relocation of 1.2 million peasants living along the river's banks and will submerge ancient villages and relics. The completion of the blocking came two days before a crucial Communist Party congress opens in Beijing.

State television showed dump trucks and bulldozers pouring boulders into the dam's final opening, a diversion canal built in 1997 for boats to navigate the river during construction.

Li Peng, the No. 2 official in the Communist Party and longtime power industry official who is expected to retire from his party post at the congress, watched through binoculars.

He called the dam one of the greatest engineering feats in history, the official New China News Agency said.

"The administration of a country's national affairs becomes easier when its rivers are tamed," Li said, citing an old saying.

The Yangtze waters now flow through 22 diversion holes in the lower part of the dam, in the central province of Hubei.

Critics say the dam, planned decades ago but begun only in 1993, is not a practical solution to either flooding or China's power needs.

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