About 100 people have begun a march of about 1,200kilometres (750 miles) from Yangon to the site of the controversial Myitsone Dam in Kachin State to demand that the project be cancelled.

The marchers left Yangon from the eastern entrance of the Shwedagon Pagoda on March 23 and expect to take about 100 days to reach the site of the hydropower dam project, on which President U Thein Sein suspended work for the term of his presidency in September 2011.

The dam site on the Ayeyarwady River is about 40 kilometres upstream from the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina, at the confluence of the Malikha and Maykha rivers.

Organised by the League of Political Ex-Prisoners, the march is expected to attract thousands of supporters as it makes its way to the far north of the country.

“We demand an end to the Ayeyarwady Myitsone Dam project, the expulsion from Myanmar of the CPI company and that people relocated from the mine site be allowed to return,” said U Ye Htut Khaung, a league.

The former military government signed an agreement with China’s state-backed China Power Investment to build to dam in 2006.

The agreement provided for most the electricity generated by the dam to be exported by China.

In a decision greeted by popular acclaim, President U Thein Sein suspended the project following escalating protests in 2011 that were supported by a broad cross section of society.

The protest march was arranged to pressure the government to cancel the project because of concern about the degradation of the environment and its impact on communities around the site.

The first day’s march ended at Hmawbi. The route planned for the rest of the protest will take the marchers through Pyay, Magway, Mandalay, Shwebo, Moenyin and Myitkhina to the project site.

“We will negotiate with the respective township authorities if they deter the protest,” U Ye Htut Khaung said.

The protesters submitted a route map of the march to the Office of the President on March 18.

Link: http://mizzima.com/mizzima-news/environment/item/11020-1-200km-march-begins-to-demand-cancellation-of-myitsone-dam-project