July 21, 2009

China’s Xiluodu Dam Faces Problems With New Audit Report

Faced with time constraints and a recent claim of public fund irresponsibility, China's massive Xiluodu dam could become a riskier, more expensive project to complete, according to the National Audit Office.

Auditors issued a report on Monday, which found that project managers pushed for the dam's completion timetable to be tightened, resulting in a cost of almost $250 million to streamline productivity and change building plans.

The quickened timeline increased the risks and difficulties, and added to the cost," state media said, citing the report.

Developers of the project also illegally collected some 10 million yuan ($1.46 million) in unauthorized funds.

The dam is in the progress of being constructed by state-controlled China Three Gorges Project Corp along the Jinsha River between Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

"They have exaggerated the problems a little. We have explained to the auditors before that we have run the project according to a long-term plan," construction director Hong Wenhao told the China Daily.

"The office said we have shortened 27 months of construction. Well, they have overrated our efficiency," he said.

Auditors warned that safety could be a growing concern due to the quickened timeline and resulted in the height of the dam to be raised from 278 m to 285.5 m.

"There will be no safety risks under our current working procedures because we do not allow any shortcuts when we build major projects, such as the near-300-m-tall dam."

Hong told the China Daily that the project was about one year ahead of schedule, putting it in line with other similar projects, such as the Three Gorges Dam.

In 2005, the dam project was at the center of controversy after it was discovered to have failed an environmental impact assessment, according to the China Daily.

"Although there seems to be no immediate problems, for this extraordinarily-tall dam, both its construction quality and impact on local ecology are the essential concerns," Ma Jun, a Beijing-based environmentalist told the newspaper.