The Nujiang Dam Project
A plan to build 13 hydropower dams on the Nujiang river in China,
Asia's last free flowing international river, has provoked extensive
debate since it was approved by China's powerful State Development and
Reform Commission in August 2003. The Nujiang flows through
a spectacular canyon dubbed the Oriental Grand Canyon and through
the Three Rivers Region, an area designated as a
world heritage site
by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO). This region is a world center for the origin of many flora
and fauna species and the most important and precious gene bank in
the world. It contains about 25% of the animal species of the world
and 50% of those in China, plus over 6000 varieties of plants including
many that are found only in this region.
The river is home to 48 proven species of fish including
some that are unique. The lower reaches of the Nujiang contain over
30 hectars of wild rice and are the most important gene bank for studying
and developing hybrid rice.
In addition the region is
home to 22 minority nationalities including Naxi, Lisu, Tibet, Bai, Yi,
Pumi, Nu and Dulong ethnic groups with many diverse languages, religions,
customs and crafts living in an area that has the richest cultural diversity
in the world. It is estimated that over 50,000 people, mainly minorities
would be displaced by the dam project.
In response to the proposed dams, there has been considerable
opposition by scientific and environmental groups and others within
China as well as by the world community.
Construction of the first dam at Liuku, near the Chinese-Burmese
border was to have begun later in 2004, but on April 8, 2004 Prime
Minister Wen Jiabao unexpectedly suspended plans for the massive dam
system citing environmental concerns, and ordered a major review
of the project.
Since then advocates have continued to lobby in Beijing to restart
the project while environmental groups lobby for public hearings
and further research. According to the Jan 2nd New York Times, as of
November 2004 there were reports that preparatory work was
continuing near Liuku. It also said officials were meeting in
Beijing to assess the environmental damage in monetary terms
as part of the continuing environmental feasibility study.
Nujiang Dams Approved, Preliminary Work Underway
As of March of 2005, at the National People's Congress in Beijing,
the Minister of Water Resources, Wang Shucheng, said four dams
would go ahead, starting with the Liuku project. Geological
surveys and construction of side roads has already begun. Indications
are that the Liuku Power Station would be located 5 kilometers
upstream of Liuku. Along some 200 kilometers above Liuku crews
of workmen and geologists from the China Power Corporation have
been digging exploratory tunnels into the hillsides and taking cores
of the river bottom.
Who We Are
The Save the Nujiang group consists of whitewater enthusiasts
and advocates for the protection and preservation of the world's
natural rivers. Most of our members participated in the first
descent of the Nujiang in 1996 organized by White Pearl of Boulder,
Colorado and Xi Yi of Kunming, China. Members of the Save the
Nujiang group include,
Philip Wegener, and
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© 2004-2008 Save the Nujiang.