A second damming of the Three Gorges on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River in November will not negatively affect nearby scenic sites, said a local municipal official on Tuesday.
"On the contrary, the damming will add new scenic sites to the Three Gorges area and thus promote tourism," said Liao Dafeng, deputy mayor of Yichang, the nearest city to the site of the on-going gigantic water conservancy project.
Situated in the western Yichang area, central China's Hubei province, the Three Gorges Project will consist of a 2,309-meter-long by 185-meter-high dam and 26 hydroelectric power-generating units with a combined capacity of 18.2 million kilowatts.
The Yangtze River will be dammed again for the third-phase construction on a 665-meter section to complete the 2,309-meter-long dam, the country's largest water conservancy project.
The deputy mayor noted that more than 120 new islets would be formed in the reservoir area and conditions for some tour programs, such as cruising near Mount Wushan and on Shennong Creek in Badong, Hubei province, would be improved by the permanent damming.
The temple devoted to Zhang Fei, a famous general of the State of Shu (221-263) during the Three-Kingdom period (220-280), and stone carvings on Moya Cliff near the Qutang Gorge, both of which will be inundated by the damming, were being replicated elsewhere, said the deputy mayor.
Moreover, the construction of other new scenic sites is being carried out swiftly around the dam site. At a cost of 390 million yuan (US$47 million), the new scenic sites, including a sightseeing tower in Zigui, are expected to be completed next year.
The cofferdams were built to allow navigation during the 17-year construction period. When the mainstream of the Yangtze was blocked in November 1997, the cofferdams were constructed on the river's north bank to form a pit in which the 1,600-meter left section of the dam and a powerhouse were built.
The second damming will block the water diversion canal, 3.7 kilometers long and 350 meters wide, which was built to serve as the only navigable channel from 1997 to 2002.
Upon completion in 2009, the project will be able to generate 84.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually. Its permanent locks will allow ships of over 10,000 DWT (dead weight tonnage) to pass.
(Xinhua News Agency October 8, 2002)