It appears that the Communist Party of China occasionally makes a mistake. Too bad millions of people already have paid a price and millions more are likely to get stuck with the bill as well.
It was hailed as one of the engineering feats of the 20th century. Now the Three Gorges Dam across China’s mighty Yangtze River threatens to become an environmental catastrophe.
In an unprecedented admission of blame, Communist Party officials gave a stark warning yesterday of impending disaster in the vast area around the dam if preventive measures are not urgently introduced.
For more than a decade China has promoted the world’s biggest hydro-electric project as the best way to end centuries of floods along the basin of the Yangtze and to provide energy to fuel the country’s economic boom.
The Government ignored critics who claimed that the Three Gorges, first proposed nearly a century ago and immortalised in a poem by Mao Zedong, was an ecological disaster waiting to happen.
Now those same officials who oversaw construction of the £13 billion dam admit that surrounding areas are paying a heavy, and potentially calamitous, environmental cost. Hundreds of thousands of people may have to be moved. A total of 1.3 million have been displaced by the dam already.
A report issued by the Xinhua news agency, mouthpiece for the Government, said: “There exist many ecological and environmental problems concerning the Three Gorges Dam. If no preventive measures are taken, the project could lead to catastrophe.”
At least Beijing is admitting to the problem before disaster strikes. The next question: Is anyone actually held accountable for their mistakes?