BIZCHINA / Top Biz News

Three Gorges Dam completed
Updated: 2006-05-21 09:10

China completed construction of the world's largest dam on Saturday in Three Gorges area, central China's Hubei Province, signifying a milestone accomplishment of major structure of the mammoth Three Gorges water control project that aims to tame the flood-prone Yangtze River, the nation's longest.

At 2:00 on Saturday afternoon, as the final concrete was poured for main wall of the Three Gorges Dam, hurrah broke out and six workers were tossing over head by their fellows on the worksite before a brief celebration ceremony was held.

The concrete placement of the Dam's main section was completed 10 months ahead of schedule, which will enable the Dam to start its role in power generation, flood control and shipping improvement in 2008, one year ahead of designated time.

After the cofferdam is demolished on June 6, the dam's main wall, often compared to the Great Wall in its scale, will formally begin to hold water, protecting 15 million people and 1.5 million hectares of farm land downstream from floodings, which had haunted the Yangtze River valley for thousands of years. Upon the demolition, a new landscape featuring a reservoir with a serene water surface behind the spectacular dam will gradually come into being along with planned rises of the water level.

The Three Gorges, which consist of Qutang, Wuxia and Xiling Gorges, extend for about 200 km on the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze. They have become a popular world-class tourist destination noted for beautiful natural landscapes and a great number of historical and cultural relics. This section of the Yangtze has a narrow river course which is inconvenient for shipping but boasts abundant hydroelectric resources.

Pu Haiqing, deputy director of the State Council Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, said the project manifests that a dream comes true and the philosophical thinking and wisdom of the Chinese people in following the law of nature and making use of it for the benefits of the people.

He said the completion of the dam of Three Gorges Project marks a phased victory, for there remains great deal of work ahead, including resettlement and environmental protection.

As China's longest and the world's third longest, the Yangtze River, together with the Yellow River, nurtured the Chinese civilization. However, its floodings have since long threatened lives and properties of residents along its valley. The latest deluge happened in 1998, which claimed about 1,000 lives and incurred approximately 100 billion yuan (12.5 billion U.S.dollars) in economic losses.

The Three Gorges project was initially envisaged in 1918 by Sun Yat-sen, the forerunner of China's democratic revolution. It had undergone protracted debates and researches for around half a century before it was finally approved in 1992 by the National People's Congress, China's top legislature. It is schemed to function in flood control, to generate clean energy and to benefit shipping, with flood control as its major effect. Upon completion in 2008, one year ahead of the schedule, the project will help the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River valley to withstand deluges that can be seen every 100 years.

The project, the world's largest water control project, recruited 26,000 people, including professionals and specialists from 50-odd countries and regions, at the peak of its construction. On the basis of absorption of foreign advanced technologies, the project has set 100-plus world records.

The project, the world's largest hydroelectric project, boasts a total electricity generating capacity of 22.4 million kilowatt, an equivalent of the energy produced by a coal mine with an annual production capacity of 50 million tons or by an oilfield with an annual production capacity of 25 million tons of crude oil.

The project's main dam, which is 2,309 meters long and 185 meters high above sea level, involves concrete placement of 16 million cubic meters, smashing the 12.57-million-cu-m record set by the Itaipu Hydropower Station on the border of Brazil and Paraguay.

Swiss engineer Hans Grolimund said, "It seems that the experience I gained over the past 25 years was just for the Three Gorges Dam. I've reached the climax of my career since I took part in the project."

The engineer serves as the chief site representative of the France-based Alstom Power for the Three Gorges Project.

More than 1 million people have been moved to pave way for the project, and most of them have been resettled, having brought a miracle in the world's history of migration.

Zhao Baolian, a 42-years-old migrant, had been an orange grower living on Zhongbao Island before it disappeared from map and becomes part of the dam base. She said when she saw the first bulldozer came near her home, she hurried to take last pictures of her home.

Now engaged in selling Three Gorges souvenirs, Zhao said,"I feel affectionate to the huge Dam, as I've seen how it was built day after day. However, I still want my grandson to learn it by heart that there was an island named Zhongbao under the Dam, as it used to be our home."

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