Yangtze dam finished after 13 years

Beijing, May 21 :

Chinese officials and construction workers yesterday celebrated the completion of the Three Gorges Dam, 13 years after work first started on one of the world’s largest and most controversial engineering projects.

In a live TV broadcast, workers poured the last of 28 million cubic metres of cement to finish the gargantuan structure, which stretches for a mile and a half across the Yangtze river. They waved the Chinese national and Communist party flags and set off firecrackers to mark the realisation of an idea first mooted in 1918: to build the planet’s largest hydroelectric dam acr-oss Asia’s mightiest river.

More than 1.3 million people have been uprooted to make way for the project. At 185 metres high, 15 metres thick and costing 13 billion pounds, the dam is the largest and most expensive ever built. It has been dogged by controversy since its inception. Now, as the water level behind it inches upwards, the people being resettled in newly built villages on higher gro-und complain of a lack of fertile farmland and jobs. A total of 13 cities, 140 towns and 1,300 villages will be completely submerged, and thousands of irreplaceable archaeological treasures have or will be drowned in the process.

But taming the Yangtze, which regularly floods when the summer rains arrive, has been a dream for hundreds of years. Yangtze floods claimed an estimated 300,000 lives last century, and experts expect the dam will protect 1.5 million hectares of farmland and save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Government officials also say that power generated by the dam is essential to keep China’s booming economy on track and boost development in central China.