Dam to Undergo Environmental, Social Impact Analysis

Khin Maung Oo (Minister, Kayah)
Khin Maung Oo (Minister, Kayah)

A 4000 mega watt hydropower dam project on one the four main rivers of Myanmar facing public protest will undergo environmental and social impact analysis, according to Minister of Kayah State. Experts from international organisations in Norway and Sweden will conduct the required analyses on Ywathit dam project to be built on Thanlwin River in Bawlakhe district of Kayah State, Minister Khin Maung Oo told Eleven Media on March 15.

On March 14 or International Day of Action for Rivers, a group of local people prayed for an end of this joint project between Chinese Datang Corporation and Myanmar government. In fact, about 3000 people planned to stage a demonstration then, but the authorities stopped them.

The state minister said that the project team is carrying out geographic surveys, and dam construction will begin next year, although local people claimed they sighted heavy machineries that are extracting gold and metals at the project area and dump trucks carrying earth from the project site to China. Security forces have also been heavily deployed, they added.

“Geographic surveys on the dam project which will generate 4000MW have begun. The project will be implemented onlynext year. Also, international experts will carry out possible environmental impacts of the dam. If they say there are hazards from the dam, we will stop the dam. If not, we will proceed. If we get extra electricity [from the project], we will sell it to the neighbouring countries,” the minister said.

He also added that security issues of the project are responsible by the Ministry of Energy and the state ministry does not have any right to intervene the government’s project.

“There are things I can tell the public and things I cannot. Why security forces are heavily deployed is to guard the area from the possible threats of outside parties,” State Minister said.

Ethnic people in the region are concerned over the consequences of the dam project. Some of them formed an informal organisation called Thanlwin-lovers, and protested against the dam.