Monday, 24 March 2014

ASEAN People’s Forum calls for abolition of six hydropower projects

Discussion at the ASEAN People’s Forum on Saturday focused terminating six hydropower projects to be implemented on Thanlwin River that activists fear will send 90 percent of the power generated to China and Thailand.

Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia participated in the discussions about the negative impacts on the rivers that are expected to result from the implementation of dam projects.

Myanmar has plans to build six dam projects, including the Tarhsan (a) Mongton hydropower station, on the Thanlwin. The other dam projects are Kunlon, Naungpha, Mantaung, Ywathit and Hatgyi. All expect to generate 15,460 megawatts of electric power.

“None of the projects show transparency. There may be flooding in the upstream of the river. For these projects, the local people will be forced to leave and be subjected to land confiscation. Also, the livelihoods of the local people living on the Thanlwin River can be damaged. Biodiversity is threatened, and rare species will be in danger of extinction. Due to the projects, troop deployments become more frequent, and that can hurt the peace process,” said activist Saw Thar Boe.

“If there are impacts, responsibility is important. We don’t know who will handle these problems. The government and project organisers have no transparency and they don’t make the projects known to the public. For that reason, we are demanding an immediate stop to the projects. We made this demand of the government and concerned companies on March 14, the International Day of Action for Rivers. We’ve had no reply yet. The Kunlon and Tarhsan dam projects have already begun. Some facilities have been built on the farmlands of the local people.”

The Ywathit dam project is located on land where Yintale ethnics are living in Kayah State, and just over one thousand people are left there, added Saw Thar Boe.

Moreover, there are dams already built along the Mekong River. Experts from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam pointed out during the discussions that, since the local people are suffering negative impacts, the dam projects should not go ahead.

The Thanlwin River is 324,000 square kilometers long. China covers 53 percent and Myanmar 42 percent of the river. Thailand has five percent. Myanmar has about 7 million people living on Thanlwin River.

Conclusions reached at the forum will be announced on the forum’s last day and will be sent to respective ASEAN governments.

source: Eleven Myanmar
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