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Three Gorges Dam To Be Completed Ahead Of Schedule

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by Staff Writers
Beijing, China (AFP) Feb 06, 2006
China's Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric power project, will be completed in May this year, nine months ahead of schedule, state media reported Monday.

The project, which was launched in 1993 in the middle reaches of China's longest river, the Yangtze, will have cost 180 billion yuan (22 billion dollars) and required 16 million cubic metres (560 million cubic feet) of concrete, Xinhua news agency said.

It will officially be completed in three months' time when the main dam has concrete poured to 185 meters (610 feet) above sea level, according to Xinhua.

Xinhua, which cited Cao Guangjing, vice-manager of the China Three Gorges Project Corporation, did not explain why the project will be finished early.

China's government says the dam, with a length of 2,309 meters, will generate much needed power, prevent flooding and benefit shipping.

But the scheme has been heavily criticized for its huge cost and its unproven capacity to control floods.

Critics have also cited environmental problems, including silt accumulation and pollution controls in hundreds of cities and villages that have been created because of the dam.

Also, 1.2 million people will have been relocated by the time the project is completed.

Xinhua said the project had been built in three phases, with the first phase from 1993 to 1997. That included the Yangtze being dammed at the Three Gorges area for the first time on November 8, 1997.

Workers began pouring concrete for the dam in late 1998 from the northern bank of the Yangtze and completed most of the structure in October 2002, Xinhua said.

Concrete pouring for the final section of the dam close to the southern bank began in July 2003.

Fourteen of the 26 generators needed for the project have been installed. Once all the generators are in place, they will have a combined capacity of 18.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, Xinhua said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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