Fri 15 Jul 2011
Filed under: Inside Burma
After conducting an assessment, a group of Chinese and Burmese scientists working for the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) recommended in an internal report that the company cancel its Myitsone Dam project on the Irrawaddy River in northern Burma, but CPI has continued construction of the dam.
The 945 page assessment—which was obtained by the Burma Rivers Network, an environmental organization—was funded by CPI and conducted between January and May of 2009 (the CPI Report).
The CPI Report said that the Myitsone Dam will threaten bio-diverse ecosystems and impact millions of people that depend on the Irrawaddy River for their livelihoods: “The fragmentation of the Irrawaddy River by a series of dams will have serious social and environmental problems, not only upstream of dams but also very far downstream to the coastal area,” the CPI Report said.
The CPI report concluded that the Myitsone Dam project should not proceed.
“There is no need for such a big dam to be constructed at the confluence of the Irrawaddy River,” the CPI report said.
However, CPI ignored the recommendation by its own assessment team and will go ahead with the controversial dam project, said Sai Sai, the coordinator of the Burma Rivers Network.
“Chinese companies are increasing their investments in Burma, yet they are not following their own standards. While CPI is hiding its assessment from the people of Burma, construction of the dam is speeding ahead,” Sai Sai said.
CPI is planning to build and operate seven mega-dams on the Irrawaddy River and its tributaries.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Friday, Ah Nan, the assistant coordinator of the Burma Rivers Network, said, “We call on CPI and the Burmese government to immediately stop the Myitsone Dam, as it will have a huge negative impact on local people.”
She also called on the Chinese government not to invest in Burma, as armed conflicts are still active and instability prevails in the country.
In June, serious clashes between Burmese government troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an ethnic Kachin armed group, broke out near the Chinese-run Taping Dam site in Kachin State, northern Burma. Due to the conflict, about 15,000 people have been displaced.
Mega-dams in Kachin State and across Burma are deeply unpopular in the country, but numerous appeals to Chinese companies and the Chinese and Burmese governments to stop the dams have gone unanswered, said the Burma Rivers Network.
The CPI Report warned that “the majority of local races oppose construction of the dams” and called for consultation with and the consent of affected people. The study also recommends a full social impact assessment be conducted along the length of the whole river, but this has not taken place.
Although completed in late 2009, the CPI Report was never made public.