World Bulletin/News Desk
China's environment ministry has given the go-ahead for the construction of what will become the country's tallest hydroelectric dam despite acknowledging it will have an impact on plants and rare fish.
The dam, with a height of 314 metres (1,030 feet), will serve the Shuangjiangkou hydropower project on the Dadu River in southwestern Sichuan province.
To be built over 10 years by a subsidiary of state power firm Guodian Group, it is expected to cost 24.68 billion yuan ($4.02 billion) in investment.
The ministry, in a statement issued late on Tuesday, said an environmental impact assessment had acknowledged that the project would have a negative impact on rare fish and flora and affect protected local nature reserves.
Developers, it said, had pledged to take "counter-measures" to mitigate the effects. The project still requires the formal go-ahead from the State Council, China's cabinet.
China aims to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix to 15 percent by 2020, up from 9.4 percent in 2011. Hydropower is expected to make the biggest contribution.
It has vowed to speed up construction of dams in the 2011-2015 period after slowing it down following the completion of the controversial Three Gorges project in 2005.
The Three Gorges Dam, which serves the world's biggest hydropower station on the Yangtze river, measures 185 metres.
The 300-m Nurek dam in Tajikistan in Central Asia is the world's highest, though other taller dams are now under construction. China's tallest dam now, at 292 metres, is the Xiaowan Dam on the Lancang River, also known as the Mekong.
On completion, the Sichuan project will have a total installed capacity of 20 gigawatts (GW), with annual power generation to exceed 7 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh).
The government said this year that hydropower capacity was expected to reach 290 GW by 2015, up from 220 GW at the end of 2010. It also said it would begin building a controversial project on the undeveloped Nu River in Yunnan province.
Guodian was one of a number of state-owned firms criticised by China's national audit office last week for starting work on projects not yet been approved by the central government. The office said by the end of 2011, the company had invested nearly 30 billion yuan in 21 unapproved projects.
The Huadian Group, China's biggest power company, was also criticised for launching construction of the Huangdeng hydropower plant before receiving the government's go-ahead.
END TO "FORCIBLE" LAND REQUISITION
Meanwhile, China's land ministry has issued an emergency notice calling for an end to forced, illegal land requisitions, the state-run People's Daily reported on Wednesday, stepping up efforts to defuse one of the biggest sources of public protest in China.
The Ministry of Land Resources issued the notice in reaction to what the newspaper, the ruling Communist Party official publication, said had been a spate of violent land grabs.
It called on regional authorities to re-examine and standardise land acquisition procedures.
"Illegal acts of forcible land acquisition must be severely punished," it said.
China is rife with stories of regional governments and construction companies using strong-arm tactics to force residents to move, often with inadequate compensation, to make way for lucrative property developments.
Forced evictions and land requisitions, which are widely thought to enrich officials unfairly at the expense of residents, have sparked tens of thousands of street protests and clashes over the years.
The ministry said regions should conduct in-depth research into the problems behind current land disagreements and come up with targeted policies to handle them, ensuring that farmers are properly compensated, the paper said.
About 90,000 "mass incidents" - a euphemism for social unrest - occur each year in China, of which some two-thirds are triggered by land-related disputes.
The government has vowed repeatedly to crack down on illegal land grabs, but to little apparent effect.Last Mod: 15 Mayıs 2013, 13:34