Beijing (AFP) Sept 13, 2009
China has relocated 1.27 million people to make way for the controversial Three Gorges dam development, the world's largest hydroelectric project, state media reported.
The figure was the total number of relocations as of the end of June, a top dam construction official was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency in a report issued late Saturday.
Chinese officials have previously said 1.4 million people were to be subject to forced relocation from areas now submerged or due to be submerged in central China.
It did not provide a timetable for the resettlement of the remaining residents.
Critics of the dam have long alleged massive corruption in the resettlement programme, while villagers forced from their homes have complained they were denied promised job retraining and resettlement funds.
State media said in 2007 that at least 37 million dollars had been embezzled from the programme in 2004 and 2005 alone.
A further four million people have been "encouraged" to move from the area by 2020, officials said in 2007, although the government has insisted those relocations were unrelated to the dam.
At 2,309 metres (7,575 feet) wide and 185 metres high, the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei province is the world's largest.
Already generating electricity, the dam is expected to begin approaching full capacity as early as this year.
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