Wed 10 Aug 2011
Filed under: Opinion,Other
I am a Myanmar national, so I love the river Ayeyawady. I have travelled up and down the river so many times in life. For me, the Ayeyawady River is a source of safe water and I live on it. That is why I love to the marrow the river Ayeyawady, which is the lifeblood of Myanmar people, and represents so many pages in the Myanmar history.These days, I have heard repeatedly of talks about the Ayeyawady River, the king of the rivers in Myanmar. In particular, talks about the river are featured from various points of view on Internet articles. According to the article, it seems to me that some are misunderstanding events about the river. Some are using the river as a stepping stone to blame the government with negative attitude. They have created stories with one-sided views as though the Ayeyawady River were on the verge of silting up. Anyone has the right to state their views and opinions on Internet, but they have to take responsibility for what they have created on webblog.
The Myanmar dissidents living in western countries like the US, who are seeking their own interests in expense of national interest, are even louder than anti-government activists in the country in using the name of the Ayeyawady River. To be honest, I love the Ayeyawady River thousands of times more than those Myanmar dissidents do. Therefore, I cannot keep silent if and when there is threat to the waterway. I am confident that the watercourse will continue to exist as long as the world and the land of Myanmar do. In this regard, I would like to present some points for common knowledge.
Certain persons are stating stories as if the Ayeyawady River would be dry up soon due to Myitsone Hydropower Project, like the Yellow River that was dry up due to man’s activities. Indeed, that is nonsense. Myitsone Hydropower Plant is being constructed by damming the Ayeyawady River downstream the confluence of the Maykha River and the Malikha River. To be exact, it lies near Tanphe Village, 4.3 miles downstream the confluence. The water that flows into the dam amounts to 410,000 square kilometers, only 47,265 square kilometers of which are used for the dam. That accounts for only 11.5 per cent, so there is no way the Ayeyawady River will be dry up due to the facility. Another point is that the region gets an average annual rainfall of 91 inches. And on average, 128.52 million acre feet of water flows into the river a year. The maximum water storage capacity of Myitsone Dam is only 9.788 million acre feet, accounting for only 7.6 % of the total inflow water. And 92.4 % of the total inflow water spills out into the river.
The Maykha and the Malikha are not the only rivers that meet the Ayeyawady River. So many rivers and streams join the Ayeyawady River including Tarpein River, Shweli River, Zawgyi River, Panlaung River, Myitnge River, Chindwin River and Dokhtawady River just downstream the Ayeyawady River. In fact, all the water stored in Myitsone Dam will flow into the river through the outlet channel of the hydropower plant when it is in operation. So, it is out of the question that the Ayeyawady River will be dry up in consequence of Myitsone Dam. And the Maykha River and the Malikha River will never be dry up and exist forever with the Ayeyawady River.
There are concerns that the Ayeyawady River will be dry up in summer as it is dammed at the confluence. However, according to the experts undertaking Myitsone Hydropower Project, due to the dam, the average discharge of the Ayeyawady River decreases by 3.5% in the rainy season, but increases by 16% in summer owing to the water that is released from the dam. In summer, ice-capped mountains in Kachin State melt into the Ayeyawady River. So, the discharge of the Ayeyawady River is not in serious conditions at all. The average annual discharge of the Ayeyawady River in summer is 1830 m3/s, but it will increase to 2120 m3/s when the dam is completed. So, the water level downstream the Ayeyawady River will be about 1.5 feet higher than normal. Therefore, concerns over the Ayeyawady River are unnecessary and they can rest assured. I would say that the Ayeyawady River will never be dry up, and there will be no adverse effects on the industries that rely on the river such as agricultural farming, businesses, social affairs and waterway transport.
Furthermore, some say in their talks that Myitsone Dam is close to Sagaing earthquake zone, and if an earthquake takes place, the whole Myitkyina will be flooded. Some express their concerns that the embankment of the dam will be broken and the stored water will let flow outside through its gates if the dam receives excessive water when heavy rains persist for a long time. In that case, Myitsone Dam is Concrete Face Rockfilled Dam (CFRD). CFRD type dam is more resistant to earthquakes than zone type dams. To make it clear, an earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale hit Sichuan Province some years ago, but there was not any damage to Skuibuya Dam in the province. Shuibuya Dam is of CFRD type. Myitsone Dam is of CFRD type to be resistant enough to strong earthquakes. Experts designed the dam to be an earthquake-proof one. In addition, the dam has spillways and outlets and is installed with a monitoring system. So, it is impossible that the embankment of the dam will be broken and the stored water will be released for some reason. Regarding the flood control, the projects will be able to store around 0.85billion m3. Previous to the dam, Myitkyina faces floods once in every five years on average, but after Myitsone Dam Project is completed, the region can encounter floods only once in every 20 years.
Some are concerned that all the silt carried along the Maykha River and the Malikha River will be blocked by Myitsone Dam. So, later, alluvium will be scarce in the Delta, and that will deal a blow to local farmers. They are like redwattled lapwings that put themselves upside down while they sleep in fear that the sky may fall. In fact, the dam is not that dangerous. I have said that apart from the Maykha River and the Malikha River, hundreds of other rivers and creeks flow into the Ayeyawady River. Therefore, they remain carrying silt into the river. As far as I am concerned, the dam also has silt excluders designed to let the silt in the dam get out of the dam when it piles up on the bed of the dam. So, the silt in the dam will go into the Ayeyawady River later. So, there is no need to mention it.
An Internet article says that over 20,000 people from 47 villages were displaced due to Myitsone Dam Project. In reality, only 2146 people of 410 households from the five villages that are in the project area: Tanphe, Kyeinkharan, Myitsone, Khappar/Aunggyayan and Daungpan are all who are relocated. The five villages have been reconstituted into Aungmyintha Model Village and Maliyan Model Village with better houses and buildings than previous ones to meet all the characteristics of a model village.
To my dismay, some say that mangrove forests in the Delta will be extinct stemming from Myitsone Dam Project. As a matter of fact, the discharge of the Ayeyawady River will remain almost normal, so there will be no effects on the mangrove swamps. Since the clone “Nargis”, the government has been stepping up conservation of mangrove forests in cooperation with local non-governmental organizations and international non-governmental organizations. So, mangrove forests will be thriving more than ever.
The government carried out detailed feasibility study for the project. It has found out possible environmental impact due to the dam since December 2007. The dam is being built based on the findings of the study. Survey was carried out jointly by many international companies and over 100 Myanmar experts.
With an installed capacity of 6000 megawatts (8×750 megawatts), Ayeyawady Myitsone Hydropower Plant will be able to generate 29,400 million kilowatt hours a year. The term of the project is over nine years. The People’s Republic of China undertakes the project as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Someone can ask why the government gave the green light to the neighbouring country to implement such a huge project instead of doing it itself. Internet stories carry so many comments on the project. The major barrier to the project is lack of fund. The project will be highly beneficial, and it needs huge investments. Supposing if another country wants to build a similar dam, it can get loans from the World Bank or Asia Development Bank and make investments by itself. However, Myanmar is still facing economic sanctions due to the demand of a handful of people who consider that they will come to power only if the country comes under an economic downturn. In consequence, Myanmar has not got any international loans and aid for nearly 20 years, and it has to work on self-reliant basis. I believe every reader understands that point by now.
Every project has pros and corns. In implementing jointly a project, the host country has to enjoy benefits from it but to make some sacrifices. Anyhow, without any doubt, leaders of the State, in implementing the project, ensure minimizing sacrifices and most benefits. Due to FDI for Myitsone Dam Project, the country will enjoy royalty energy to a certain percentage and benefits, and will have the rights to sell energy or purchase more energy from the project. So, groundless are the accusations that the project is designed just for China, not for Myanmar. Any State leaders will not give the green light to implement a project that is not beneficial to the nation and the people. They should have known it.
So far, the project has created over 2600 jobs. When it is completed, it will create more jobs. To complete Myitsone Dam Project, a road (about 261 miles long) will be built along the east bank of the Maykha River from the confluence to Yinan, and another road (about 170 miles long) on the west bank of the Malikha River from the confluence to Laizar. And there will be seven bridges on the roads. They are fruitful results to national brethren.
Overall, every matter has strengths and weaknesses. What is needed is that we should assess strong points as well as weak points. It put it another way, we should have correct views on things. If a person things with negative attitude and extreme views, he cannot see the truth. I wish they would view Myitsone Dam Project reasonably. This article is aimed to help the public realize the points about the project. Not as they have said, the project is not designed to trouble Myanmar people who love the Ayeyawady River. We also love the river Ayeyawady, which is the lifeblood of our country. We never accept any threats to the river. I am confident that the entire Myanmar people will enjoy the fruits of Myitsone Dam Project on the everlasting river Ayeyawady.