The Government of Myanmar plans to give the green light to three of six hydroelectric projects to begin construction on the Thanlwin River within three months, where feasibility studies have been completed.
The three projects with completed feasibility studies are Kunlong on the upper Thanlwin River, with an estimated capacity of 1400 megawatts, Naungpha with a capacity of 1000MW, and Manntaung with 200MW. All three have Chinese firms as the joint venture partner.
The hydro projects will be the first of their kind since President Thein Sein halted the Myitsone dam in 2011. The controversial dam was to be constructed at the confluence of the Maykha and Malikha rivers in Kachin State. Construction of a number of other hydroelectric projects also ground to a halt after the president’s decision.
The current government has also seemed to shift its focus from previous administration’s to prioritise environmental and social impacts. The Thanlwin River passes through China, Myanmar and Thailand. China plans to build 27 dams on the river, which the Mekong Energy and Ecology Network official said could adversely affect the entire river as political borders do not match up with ecological ones. Regulatory concerns are gaining in importance because parliamentary members and other government ministries are worried about the social and environment issues resulting from projects, which was not the case under the old government.