Kachins plea to China over Myitsone Dam

The Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) has called on the Chinese government and China Power Investment Corporation to stop the Myitsone Dam project at the confluence of the Irrawaddy in Kachin state. KDNG say the dam will pose hardships for locals and their livelihoods.

Since preparation of the Myitsone Dam construction, Kachin locals, who have lived alongside the river for generations, pointed out that the project could cause the flooding over of their farmlands. As a result they have been protesting against it with demonstrations, organising prayers as well as sending a letter to the SPDC chairman.

In October, Kachin villagers requested the SPDC’s Northern [Regional] Military Commander, Brigadier General Soe Win to stop the dam construction plan, when he arrived in the region to collect locals’ opinion on the project. However, their request was met with no response.

On December 21, there was an event celebrating the opening of the Myintsone dam project in Kachin state. As a result Kachin people living abroad wrote a letter to the CPI responsible for the dam project urging them not to go ahead with their plan.

The letter was sent to Chinese embassies in Bangkok, New Dehli, London, Wellington and Singapore. Only the embassy in Singapore accepted the letter and responded that it will be forwarded to the Chinese government authorities.

But since then, no reply whatsoever has been made to the letter and the dam project is continuing.

Kachin Development Networking Group’s spokesperson Ahnan said; “There are policy guidelines by the Chinese government regarding making investments in China and overseas, such as allowing locals [in areas in concern with the projects] to participate in approval, decision making and providing insurance for their livelihoods.”

“We want to urge the Chinese government and CPI to follow these guidelines and have a understanding for local people, and stop the Myitsone Dam project.”

In the letter addressed to the CPI, overseas Kachins highlighted that the dam project was in violation of nine regulations included in the foreign investment policy of the Chinese government.

For instance, for not carrying out procedures such as the release of study results on local environment and how the project could affect the local’s social and health issues, not consulting with the locals on the project and ignoring opinion from locals who expressed their concerns.

Ahnan added the governments also failed to publicly announce  a forced relocation of about 15,000 people from 60 villages up and down river from the dam project. The dam construction site is about 100 Kilometer distance from the Sagain fault.

The Myintsone dam project is being run by the CPI, Asia World Co., Ltd, and the Burmese government. The dam is about 152 foot high and will cause flooding on 766 square miles of land.

The dam’s hydropower station when finished construction is expected to generate 3600 megawatts of electricity, most of it will be sold to China, stated a report by the KDNG.