In June 2008, the lives of 324 people in 70 households belonging to a villager small group changed irrevocably: Their home village close to the construction site of the Nuozhadu Dam was going to be partially flooded by the reservoir, and they were to be resettled in a village near the urban center of Pu’er, about 200 kilometers away from their original homes. This chapter provides a detailed description of the resettlement processes of South Stream village, including the preparations for relocation, the actual relocation, and issues of contestation that ensued after the villagers had been resettled in their new homes. A comprehensive picture of the impact of the government resettlement policy on the resettlement processes, including related changes and adaptations, is obtained by focusing on the issues directly related to these changes, namely, community reactions and strategies employed in response to policy change and local policy implementation. In the case presented here, a group of dam migrants attempted to actively shape policymaking in the area of dam-induced resettlement and succeeded in pressurizing the local government to implement policy more equitably. In detail, the migrants took action in order to obtain financial support to cover their living expenses, to pressurize the local government into paying out compensation for land as well as an increase in housing compensation, and to urge the government to implement the newly introduced, long-term compensation mechanism. 1
Although successful in preventing any larger protests, the local government was exposed to repeated petitioning and resistance by the villagers. In order to prevent migrants from further obstructing the dam site, the county government paid out requested money to South Stream village. Although the entire amount of compensation has to be paid by the project developer, arguing that all stipulated funds had already been transferred to the provincial government, Huaneng refused to pay the sum additionally requested by the villagers. Instead, the county government had to pay additional compensation from their own pockets so as to pacify the migrants. From a legal standpoint, Huaneng’s argument was probably correct. The company had most likely paid out the amount of compensation stipulated in the resettlement plan. However, first, it is unknown how much of this money had actually reached the county and township levels; second, the resettlement plan had been negotiated between the provincial government and Huaneng itself on the premise that the resettlement budget be kept low. Moreover, current
bureaucratic structures prevent county and township governments to readily adapt the resettlement plan to local circumstances. While this has the potential to limit predatory behavior by local cadres, it simultaneously limits local state agency.