” Three Gorges Dam – A Threat or A Safeguard ? ” – August 4, 2020.

          ” Nectar is also poisonous in excess ” –  the proverb in vernacular Tamil also meaning,  ” Too much of anything is good for nothing “,  probably exemplifies the Three Gorges Dam in China that is becoming dangerous now.

          The dam built to control the forces of floods in the region is now facing the wrath of floods to the extent of being closed. To say that people are worried is an understatement.

          Three Gorges Dam is  a hydroelectric gravity Dam that spans the Yangtse river by the town of Sandouping in Yiling district, Yichong, Hubei Province. It is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity since 2012.  Its height is 181 meters ( 607 feet);  its length is 2335 meters ( 7660 feet ). It took nearly 20 years to complete the construction of the dam. The cost of construction was about $ 28.6 billion.

          Since the construction of the dam was planned in a large scale, fears of faults and mistakes loomed large from the beginning. This primarily constituted the reason for the delay of 40 months over the planned period. Only after this in1994 the construction began. Benefits of the Dam were seen in :  (1)  Flood Control ;  (2)  Increase in Electricity Supply ;  and  (3)  Advantages of expanded irrigation. Construction was completed in 2006. Work on electricity supply was completed in 2012. The dam has 32 main turbines, with a generating capacity of 22500 megawatts.

          There have been constant debates and discussions about the various aspects of the dam during and after the construction of the dam. Even today, 14 years after the competition of the dam, the debates have not stopped among the nation’s geologists. Raising or lowering of water levels in the reservoir contributing to the pressure causing earthquakes has not been ruled out completely.

          In addition, people living on the banks of the Yangtse river for decades have been displaced without due compensation or measures of rehabilitation. Complaints of people regarding this were frequent and the Government even admitted the complaints in 2013. Arguments of defence put forward by the Government pertained to the misuse of funds duly allocated for the purpose.

          In 2003 when the dam was nearing completion cracks in about 80 places were noticed raising doubts about the safety of the dam. Experts then opined that leakages can be blocked by closing and reworking the cracks dismissing effectively the problem as being too hazardous.

          Usually between the months of October and May, the reservoir storage will be kept at a maximum with 175 meters high for electricity generation. When the monsoon begins in June, the level will be brought to 145 meters considering the likelihood of floods.

          Three Gorges Dam is put to its first test in recent weeks due to torrential rains and flood. Torrential rains since June raised water levels above safe levels as it was bracing for Typhoon Hangupit along the East Coast. It is the 4th Typhoon to hit China this year and 2 or 3 more typhoons are likely to hit according to its meteorological centre. Cities along Yangtse and Huawei rivers were inundated and China was on high alert. This is the worst flooding to hit China since 1998. About 150 people lost their lives. Lakhs of people were shifted to protective places. Tourist spots were closed as precautionary measures. About 55 million people were affected by the floods in 27 of China’s 31 provinces. Direct economic loss was estimated to be 144 billion Yuan ( $ 20.6 billion). People feared that the dam would even may collapse. But the rains subsided bringing relief to the country as a whole.

          The dam that was constructed with the aim of combating the challenges of floods has become the most worrisome factor in the minds of people.

          Recently one of the employees of the dam maintenance referred to the damages sustained in some parts of the dam. This was also reported by a news undertaking. The damages have occurred due to the flooding that seems to have been confirmed. Officials, however, maintain that the dam is safe and secure and for 500 years into the future nothing can shake the dam. Their belief is strong sowing the seeds of confidence among people.

          A showcase project,  pride of China,  the dam now sets the thoughts of people whirling around with fear of the next flood.

          Recent floods may have posed dangers to the dam and people, but the fact that the  “Three Gorges Dam”  is the glory and pride of China cannot be erased from our memory.

          China, now, has its task cut out to protect the Dam and erase the fear from the minds of its people.


   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Tuesday,  August 4,  2020 –  5.39 p.m.  (IST)

   Tidbit :  “. Some people drowned in the floods that were caused by the rains for which they have prayed “. –  Mokokoma Mokhonoana.

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