Representatives of China Power Investment (CPI) have been visiting the homes of Kachin civilians relocated by the controversial Myitsone dam project to rally support for restarting the project postponed by President Thein Sein last on September 30, 2011.
The Myitsone Dam was being built by Burmese government contractors Asia World and Chinese investors CPI on the Irrawaddy River. If completed it will be the fifteenth largest hydroelectric dam in the world and provide between 3,600 to 6,000 megawatts of electricity primarily for Yunnan, China. The dam project has been widely criticized for the negative environmental impact it will have on the area due to flooding and the location of the construction site on the Sagaing fault line. Hundreds of people who lived near the dam project have been forcibly relocated.
According to villagers who were relocated to Aung Myin Thar Sanpya, ten CPI representatives recently visited them at their new homes from 1st July to 3rd inquiring about their well-being.
One man said a CPI representative asked him if agreed with the dam project. The representative told him if he agreed with the project they will help him. He told the local not to worry after the project is finished. He also asked him if he was satisfied with the new home where he was relocated.
“The new house they gave us looked beautiful from the outside but inside it was poorly constructed. It’s so bad we can’t even stay there. When we lived in Tang Hpre (near the dam project) we made enough money to feed a family of ten. Here we can’t even afford to feed one child here because there is no work and we can’t farm. We told the CPI representatives, Chinese people only have one child but we may have ten children. It’s simple not possible to raise them here,” the local told Kachin News Group (KNG).
The man said many people are unable to make a decent livelihood in the area where they have been forced to move. Everyone thought they would be able to return to their land since the dam project was stopped.
According to Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG), who has been closely monitoring the Myitsone Dam project, although President Thein Sein stopped the construction it doesn’t mean the project has been cancelled.
“The Myitsone dam was stopped because of the conflict. There has been no official announcement from the Chinese government regarding its cancellation so we know construction will resume. Furthermore, there are still vehicles and Chinese workers at the dam site,” said Ah Nan, a KDNG spokesperson.