The Thailand-based Burma Rivers Network (BRN) has welcomed and appreciated the concern shown by the National League for Democracy (NLD) over the likely impact on people and the environment because of the construction of the Irrawaddy Myitsone dam in Kachin State.
The NLD party led by Burma’s pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was quoted by the BRN as saying that the construction of the 152 metre high Myitsone Dam, without taking into account environmental factors will affect thousands of local people and will have a negative impact on the country.
Ah Nan spokesperson of the BRN told Kachin News Group that Win Tin, a member of NLD Central Executive Committee told BRN that the foreign investor involved in the Myitsone dam construction should take into consideration the impact on the environment and the effect it will have on the local people.
“All political parties and the civil society should condemn the construction of the Myitsone dam project because it will impact the whole country,” said Ah Nan.
She said this was the first time a political party in Burma has officially spoken about the Myitsone dam construction. It should be done more often because it is not only the issue of the Kachin people but the whole country.
The Myitsone dam located over 20 miles from Myitkyina the capital of Kachin State will displace about 15,000 people living around the construction site and will be a threat to millions of people living downstream of the river by triggering floods. There will also be a shortage of water.
The dam construction started last year spearheaded by the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI).
The electricity generated will be sold to China, BRN said in a statement released on January 17. The water will be released depending on the power demand in China and it will “cause unpredictable water shortages and surges,” it added.
Limitation of water will affect farmers and fishermen, who depend on the river for their livelihood, said the BRN statement.
The seven dams on Irrawaddy's headwaters will produce 17,160 MW of electricity, which will be exported to China, according to the BRN.
“The Irrawaddy River, also Mali Hka in Kachin, is a critical artery for Burma and cutting it off at its source will affect the entire country,” said BRN official Sai Sai in the statement.
“We strongly encourage all political parties and civil society inside Burma to stand up and protect the river. Burma’s water resources should not be controlled by foreign engineers, but should be managed for the benefit of people in Burma,” said Sai Sai.
Ah Nan said, at least six villages have been relocated to a new site, where there is no hope of livelihood for the villagers. Recently the authorities (Ya-Ya-Ka) of Tang Hpre village told villagers next to the Myitsone dam to relocate and forced them to sign on the compensation agreement without paying any compensation.
The chances of eking out a livelihood by villagers, who are being forced to relocate by the regime, are bleak in the new place which has no agricultural land.