The third and final phase of resettlement of residents displaced by the Three Gorges project has started, as the reservoir began filling on 1 June 2002.

China’s state owned news service has said the plan intends to move 324,000 people in the next three years from Chongqing, a large industrial hub in southwest China. The impounding of the reservoir will submerge an area extending to more than 600 km on the Yangtze river. The dam is scheduled to begin generating power in August this year.

Meanwhile, the current SARS health emergency in China appears to have had no impact on the schedule for the completion of the Three Gorges dam. Experts from the affected area of Beijing, taking part in a final inspection before the Three Gorges reservoir is filled, are being treated with special care by project officials in order to prevent any contacts at the dam site.