Published: Thursday 15 October 1998

Despite the claims made by the Chinese authorities about an improved flood management system, the floods in northeast China have killed 2,000 people and left 14 million people homeless. Analysts believe that the situation would worsen if the Three Gorges Dam on the river Yangtze is built.

Though the authorities claim that the dam will control the floods when completed in 2009, it will displace 1.2 million people and submerge major archaeological sites. In fact, the construction of the dam may worsen the flooding, argues International Rivers Network, a conservation group. Hydrologists and geologists believe that large dams have only limited utility when it comes to flood control. Instead, they argue that restricting development on flood-prone land, carving out more overflow areas for flood waters and making buildings flood-resistant are far more effective ways of protecting life and property. It is hoped that the Chinese authorities will consider other more efficient ways of controlling floods and rethink the construction of the dam on the Yangtze.

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