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Three Gorges Project Causes No Ecological Catastrophe

CHONGQING, August 27-- Apparently, only time will show what kind of impact the Three Gorges Projectwill have on the local environment.

However, a monitoring report recently issued by China's environment organizations and research institutes shows that there is reason to be more optimistic over this project since it hasn't caused any "ecological catastrophes".

On the contrary, some ecological indicators have become better and better in the eight years since the project started construction. The project is the largest hydropower work so far in human history with a total input of 27 billion U.S. dollars.

This five-year monitoring report, which has accumulated opinions of authorities from various aspects including environmental protection, water conservation, agriculture, forestry, meteorology, sanitation, seismology and resources, clearly points out that no signs of environmental deterioration have emerged from the Three Gorges area.

"The environmental quality of the construction area has maintained a good state, and even improved since the Yangtze River was dammed. The water quality of the Yangtze River's mainstream hasn't been negatively effected," according to the report.

The monitoring report reveals that soil erosion within the Three Gorges area has been effectively controlled due to the " marked achievements" of water and soil conservation installations and the afforestation program.

Timely precautions have been taken against natural calamities, which occurred frequently before the project construction. Perilous sites with latent geological disasters are also under close watch, said the report.

What makes people most happy, according to the report, is that besides the increasingly abundant varieties of plants, the Three Gorges area has been newly inhabited by some 33 new categories of birds, among which five are state second-class protected animals.

Meanwhile, the state first-class protected animals, like the golden monkey, the tiger and even the long-disappearing Chinese Sturgeon, are also found there.

Experts think that the reappearance of many kinds of rare animals that are very "cavil" about their living environment is, to certain extent, an affirmation of the central government's efforts to protect this area's environment.

Simultaneously, reports from all monitoring spots show that people in the Three Gorges area are generally in good health and fine public sanitation has been maintained. The incidence of contagious diseases has been lowered by 11.53 percent from the previous year.

Pan Jiazheng, one of the main designers of the world's largest dam, considers the favorable developing trend of the environment directly connected to the Three Gorges construction, because the " Chinese government has attached great importance to environmental protection from the very beginning after learning that many of the world's huge dams have led to bio-catastrophes."

China has taken a series of measures to protect the local environment, which include listing 150 categories of over 1,100 plants in state protection catalogues. Those varieties, which would have become extinct when submerged, have been transplanted to other places to enlarge their numbers before being replanted back at the Three Gorges area.

Chongqing, a southwest China municipality entirely located within the Three Gorges area, has closed down over 2,000 factories causing serious pollution recently with 5,000 more to be shut down in the next five years.

This monitoring report also prudently implies that ecological problems still exist, such as the area of fuel forests, which have dwindled greatly, and soil erosion is a still serious problem.

Experts regard the Three Gorges Project as a real challenge against ecological problems. However, just as environment expert Xing Zhiguo said, "The endeavors of the past years have disclosed a fact: the various factors polluting the Changjiang River can be absolutely controlled by human being's power."

-- source: Xinhua News Agency

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