BEIJING, July 2 (Reuters) - China has made scant progress on environment schemes drawn up nearly a decade ago to limit pollution in and around the vast Three Gorges dam reservoir, with officials hobbled by lack of funding, state media said on Friday.
Less than one-fifth of the projects laid out in 2001’s 10-year plan to protect the "water environment" have been completed, the official English language China Daily reported.
None of the nine schemes to limit water pollution caused by ships travelling on the reservoir have even got off the drawing board, the paper quoted Vice-Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun saying at a meeting in the city of Chongqing, which is at the top of the reservoir.
The Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest, aims to tame the mighty River Yangtse and provide cheap, clean energy. The dam, which cost 254.2 billion yuan ($37.24 billion) and displaced 1.3 million people, was controversial long before construction began in 1994.
The long-term plan aimed to lay to rest concerns that the dam would be devastating for the environment.
Environmentalists have warned for years that the reservoir could turn into a cesspool of raw sewage and industrial chemicals backing onto Chongqing, and feared that silt trapped behind the dam could cause erosion.
But officials from affected areas say they never got enough cash to push through the projects, and were hindered by a range of other obstacles, the China Daily said.
Vice-Minister Zhang Lijun said funding was not a problem, and that any area that had not completed at least 60 percent of its projects by the end of this year would face punishment.
A magazine report warned last year that the reservoir will also see a increasing number of landslides and other geological hazards, as the water reaches its maximum level, citing research by a local political advisory body. [ID:nnPEK124622]
(Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)