Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New dam in China disrupts river trade at major Burma border crossing

New dam in China disrupts river trade at major Burma border crossing
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 10:37 Shan Sapawa/SWAN


Press release

A recently built hydropower dam on the Longjiang River in China's Yunnan
Province is causing severe disruption to thousands of villagers relying
on cross-border trade in Burma's northern Shan State, according to a new
report by local Shan researchers.

The report "High and Dry" by the Shan Sapawa Environmental Organisation
and the Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN), exposes how local trade and
transport across the Shweli River (the Burmese name for the Longjiang)
near Muse and Namkham has been crippled by unpredictable daily
fluctuations in the water level since the completion of the 110-meter
tall Longjiang Dam about 30 kilometers upstream in mid-2010.

An estimated 16,000 villagers relying on ferrying of goods near Muse,
the main China-Burma border trade crossing, have seen their income cut
drastically by the continual drops and surges in the water level, which
have caused both grounding and flooding of the ferry boats.

"The people of our village live, eat and work with the river. People
cannot work when the water suddenly rises and falls like this," said an
impacted villager.

The villagers are calling urgently for the Chinese authorities to
investigate and mitigate the disruptive impacts of the dam, while the
authors of the report are requesting that trans-boundary impact
assessments are carried out for any future dams built in China.

"Impact assessments for dams should be carried out for the entire length
of the river, regardless of national boundaries. Whether for the
Longjiang, Mekong or Salween, China should consider the health of our
shared rivers and all the communities that rely on them," said Sapawa
spokesperson Sai Sai.

There has been increasing international debate about the downstream
impacts of China's dams on the Mekong River. There are also 13 dams
planned on the Salween River in China.

The full report can be viewed on www.shanwomen.org

Contact persons: Sai Sai (+66) 83 152 4415
Nang Moan Kaein (+66) 81 992 1121

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