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Reference: The Government's Responsibility in the Flood Disasters in Hunan Province Over the Years

September 04, 2002 |   By Moli

August 27, 2002

(Clearwisdom.net) (Note: The reference articles by non-practitioners released on this website may not represent the views of Falun Gong practitioners.)

Another Flood in Hunan!

I feel so anxious and powerless as I watch on Swedish television the scenes of so many houses submerged and so many people homeless caused by the flood in my home province of Hunan, where I grew up. It is said that the situation this year approaches that of 1998 when the embankments of both the Yangtze River and Tongting Lake burst in the flood. In that year, the entire region was covered with water; only the electric poles sticking out above the water were visible.

Historically, the beautiful Tongting Lake functioned as a natural reservoir that absorbed the overflow from the Yangtze River. During the several decades of communist rule however, a large portion of the lake was filled and converted to farmland, and this, together with deforestation, resulted in soil erosion and silt accumulation in the Yangtze River and its tributaries. This in turn led to the present depressing state of raging disastrous floods every 2-3 years. The details are analyzed in ZhengYi's, "The Destruction of China - Urgent Report on the Collapse of China's Ecology."

Besides the man-made damage to the environment leading to the flood disasters, many of the government's actions during the flood disasters are a dereliction of duty, like blindly directing the breaking of the dams to flood, the information blockade, the forbidding of reporters to freely interview, and diverting disaster relief funds and goods instead of delivering them to the disaster victims.

The flood in 1996 was the most tragic for the people living in the Tongting Lake area. The authorities misjudged the situation, thinking that there would be a drought in the summer. They ordered all the reservoirs to be filled. However, torrential rain fell in June, and the authorities had to suddenly open the dykes to discharge the excess water, drowning countless people. To safeguard the big city, Wuhan, the authorities ordered the dykes to be broken in 24 places to distribute the flooding. Although Wuhan was spared, a lot of people in the countryside who could not flee in time lost their lives. According to witnesses, a lot of human bodies were seen entangled in tree branches. That year the residents in Yueyang City frequently saw human corpses floating in front of the Yueyang Pavilion by the river.

However, none of this was reported in the Chinese media. Not only western journalists, but also the Chinese news reporters were banned from visiting the area. Instead, the media was filled with praises for the government's great achievement in conquering the flood, without any mention of the forsaken floating corpses on Tongting Lake. The authorities announced that the death toll was 330, but civilian sources estimated it at tens of thousands.

As for the disaster relief, before it reached the hands of the homeless, it was stripped by various authorities at different levels. For the stricken farmers trying to survive near the dam, each person received 500g of rice per day for subsistence. Once the flood receded, they were left to their own initiatives to face the barren land. Meanwhile, the officials in the civil administration were fighting amongst themselves over the dividing up of the relief fund. Some say they even took the donated funds for their personal use and invested in various enterprises to generate income. All this has severely undermined people's confidence in providing for the relief of those in distressed areas, as hardly anyone would put their trust in such a corrupt government.

At the present time, most of the areas in Hunan Province are still under the threat of flooding. The writer has elaborated on the various problems regarding the floods in Hunan in recent years in order to urge the government to redress their mistakes.