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Some US$800 million has already been spent on the Myitsone Dam, despite the fact that the construction project has been suspended since September 2011, according to Chinese state firm CPI, which is the major shareholder.
According to an 8 October report in Myanmar Times, CPI Yunnan International Power Investment Company said it had recalculated its spending on the dormant hydropower project – which sits at the source of the Irrawaddy River in Kachin State – and is waiting for the Burmese government to approve the figure.
“About US$800 million has been spent on the project,” a company official said, though he did not explain the reason for calculating the project’s expenses. However, according to the contract, Naypyidaw is liable to pay compensation to the Chinese state-owned electricity giant if the project is permanently cancelled.
Beijing is still hopeful the project will be reinstated. It was suspended after a national ‘Save the Irrawaddy’ campaign cited grave environmental and social impact concerns, which convinced the then newly elected president, Thein Sein, to suspend construction on the dam during his tenure.
With elections due in November, Thein Sein’s presidency may conclude within a few months, and it remains to be seen whether a new government will honour Burma’s previous commitment to Beijing or cancel the 6,000-megawatt project altogether.
CPI maintains that resumption of the hydropower project would provide Burma with an estimated $54 billion in tax, accounting for some 60 percent of total revenue from electricity exports, while investors would take home 40 percent. The company further says that a full complement of seven dam projects, six of which are slated to be built upstream of the Myitsone mega-dam, would generate some 110 billion kw/h of electricity, “which is 11 times that of total national power generation in Myanmar”.
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