China allots power revenues to displaced residents

Official reports say China has begun using revenues from increased electricity prices to subsidize 22 million people displaced by the construction of thousands of dams and reservoirs.

The official Legal Daily reported August 14 that more than 13 billion renminbi (US$1.6 billion) would be raised each year for distribution to those forced to make way for the power projects. Analysts said the move is part of Beijing’s drive to help lift the living standards of displaced residents and to curb potential social unrest.

Beijing has identified hydropower as a key domestic energy supply to help feed its growing economy. The country has built more than 3,000 reservoirs since the founding of Communist China in 1949. Complaints about poor compensation and about the quality of replacement land and jobs have been an ongoing source of discontent.

Under the scheme published on the central government’s Internet site, www.gov.cn, each resident will be given 600 renminbi (US$75) a year for 20 years. It noted that the money is to be transferred directly to the personal accounts of the displaced residents.

The funds would come from higher regulated power rates. The latest increase took effect on July 1, when retail electricity prices went up 0.025 renminbi (0.3 US cent) per kilowatt-hour.

The Legal Daily said 0.0062 renminbi, or 25 percent of power tariff increases, will go to the displaced people.

“The near-term goal is to keep migrants warm and fed,” the central government report said. �… Medium and long term, the goal should be to enhance infrastructure building at the relocated areas … to bring displaced residents’ living standard in line with the local rural level.”

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