Environmental lobby group International Rivers Network (IRN), says that people affected by the Three Gorges dam have sent three petitions to the government complaining about corruption in the resettlement process. IRN said people from the dam area in central China have complained that officials were extorting fees, accepting bribes and withholding compensation.

More than 1.3M people are being moved to make way for the dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project. The project is scheduled for completion in 2009.

The petitioners claimed they should be getting about US$2415 each in compensation, instead of the US$1300 allotted to them by local officials, IRN said. The government later told the petitioners that local officials were entitled to withhold some of the money to pay for roads and other public works needed during the relocation process. Local groups have since filed two more petitions detailing other official abuses and instances of corruption.

•Meanwhile, a recent contract award at the Three Gorges project has gone to NKK. The company has received an order from the China National Water Resources & Electric Power Materials & Equipment Corporation to supply 4000t of 60kg-grade steel plates for penstock use in the project. This is the company’s second order for Three Gorges. In July 1998 NKK was the sole supplier of 13,000t of high-grade steel plates for spiral casings.