Thursday, March 8, 2012

Myitsone Dam Continues: Kachin NGO

Myitsone Dam Continues: Kachin NGO


The Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) claims that work at the
Myitsone Dam is continuing, despite a presidential statement last
September suspending construction on the controversial Chinese-backed
megadam project in Burma's restive north.

�The Myitsone dam project continues,� the KDNG said in a press release
dated March 2. �An electric transformer is being built in Nawng Hkying
village of Waimaw Township. Some CPI workers are still at the dam site
and in Myitkyina, and there is still equipment at the dam site. Road
and bridge construction to deliver supplies to the seven dam project
also continues.�

Located at the confluence of the Irrawaddy River, the 6,000-megawatt
project is financed by state-backed China Power Investment Corporation
(CPI) at an estimated cost of some US $3.6 billion. However, following
a massive grassroots campaign opposed to the dam, President Thein Sein
announced last year that the project would be suspended for at least
his tenure as president.

�The president has not mentioned the other six dams planned for the
May Hka and Mali Hka [rivers] which will have the same impacts to the
Irrawaddy River and downstream people as the Myitsone dam,� said the
KDNG. �Massive gold mining and logging is going on upstream of
Myitsone. These destructive activities are also threatening the future
of the Irrawaddy River.�

The KDNG statement coincides with reports from Kachin State that CPI
has launched a campaign of its own�to quell opposition to the megadam
and to enlist support for its restart from among residents living near
the site and in state capital Myitkyina.

On March 1, Francis Wade, writing for Asian Correspondent, wrote that
technicians and workers remain at the Myitsone site while security has
been beefed up. Work on the road linking the dam to the Chinese border
also continues, he said, citing local reports.

The KDNG claims that since the suspension of the dam, villagers
relocated to make way for the project have not been permitted to
return to their villages. The 1,000 families from five villages
returned to the Myitsone area on Feb. 24 �to call for the permanent
cancellation of the Irrawaddy dams and to be allowed to officially
return home without fear of relocation.�

The Myitsone area villagers invited high-profile activists, including
88 Generation leader Min Ko Naing, as well as other released political
prisoners, artists and journalists, to participate in a local ceremony
at which Christian church members �collected stones from the Irrawaddy
and built walls to protect their sacred places from the dam project.�

Three of the five villages that were evacuated to facilitate the dam�
Taungban, Mazup and Lahpye�have been completely bulldozed and destroyed.

�In Tanghpre, all public buildings including schools and orange
orchards, were destroyed in order to discourage people from returning
home,� said the KDNG statement. �Despite this destruction, some
villagers continue to resist being moved to the relocation camp and
remain in their original villages.�

However, the Democratic Voice of Burma reported on Monday that a
number of families from the village of Taunghtwat had returned home.

The KDNG said in its statement that those villagers who remain in the
relocation camps �are facing difficulties ... mainly due to lack of
land and livelihoods. The houses provided in the camp are not good
quality and very little compensation was given. Some people are
leaving the relocation camp in order to find work and survive.�

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