Group slams environmental impact of dam projects

Jun 6, 2008 (DVB), The Burma Rivers Network has urged foreign companies to reconsider their investments in dam and gas projects in Burma due to the devastating impact on the local environment.

In a statement released to mark World Environment Day yesterday, the group called on companies involved in dam building and extraction of natural gas in Burma to withdraw their investments.

The secretary of the Burma Rivers Network, U Aung Nge, said steps needed to be taken to protect against deforestation and air pollution in Burma.

"There are about 25 massive dams in Burma built by Chinese and Thai state companies and there has been large-scale deforestation around the dam sites," Aung Nge said.

"Eighteen percent of Burma's forests have been wiped out, and that's higher than anywhere in the world."

Aung Nge said that companies investing the dam building and natural gas projects in Burma needed to be aware of their impact on the local population.

"It is the Burmese people who are going to have to suffer the detrimental social and environmental consequences of these investments," he said.

"So we urge the Thai and Chinese governments and Thai companies who are involved in these investments to think hard about these consequences and reconsider their investments."

The group also pointed out how the loss of mangrove to deforestation exacerbated the impact of Cyclone Nargis, and warned that such disasters could become more frequent or more devastating in future if the problem is not addressed.

Aung Nge said the Burma Rivers Network would continue to advocate for environmental issues.

"Climate change and global warming issues are major concerns for people all over the world," Aung Nge said.

"We are going to keep releasing statements for as long as there are countries and individuals who don't protect the environment," he said.

"And we will work with those who have influence over them to convince them to change their ways."

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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