2012-03-14 Burma Rivers Network
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The Miytsone project that was suspended on Sept 30 2011 will be continued soon according to CPI Chairman speaking to Chinese media. The people opposed to the dam are extremely worried about this.
In China Daily, CPI Chairman Lu Qizhou said "Myanmar is our neighboring country and we hope to continue as soon as possible."
CPI company is the main implementer of the Myitsone Hydropower project. The company said it will avoid environmental impacts and will be careful...
"The company published a pamphlet on how the dam can benefit local people and explaining that there are very few impacts of the dam, but they don't mention how people will be affected. This promoted how dams around the world provide electricity and that the Irrawaddy will become more beautiful and more productive for the country once the dam is built but they did not include information about the destruction of the Yellow River. When the company held a conference to explain to villagers that the Three Gorges Dam was safe and had no negative impacts, Chinese officials including prime minister and premier, did not attend. Even though they promise that the dam is made with good technology and can withstand earthquakes of 8.0, after the Sichuan earthquake many dams in China became cracked" said one Yangon environmental activist.
The Myitsone is located where Mali and N'mai rivers meet to form the Irrawaddy River. The Irrawaddy is 2,170 kilometers long and important for transportation and local trade. It flows through Bhamo, Katha, Thabeikgyin, Mandalay, Sagaing, Myitkin, Pakkoku, etc.
Myitsone, Chibwe, Chibwe Nge, Pusao, Kaunglaungphu, Yenan, Phisaw, Liza, all of these are implemented together with Myitsone by the Ministry of Energy with China's CPI company. Asia World Company is also involved in this project.
"Even though the president announced the suspension the project on September 30 2011, they don't follow this order. They pretend to stop the dam but in reality they have not stopped. The local villagers know that they haven't stopped the project. The workers and some engineers or technical staff still remain. They are digging here and there all the time. During the first half of February local villagers saw many trucks with supplies come to the building site. If they have really suspended the project, they don't have to prohibit villagers from returning home. Now they restrict the villagers in many ways" said the activist.
"We heard that ethnic people support Thein Sein and believe that he really suspended this project. When we met with local villagers they said the company only stopped working at the main site but they are continuing at the other dam sites. Eleven Media group opposes the Myitsone dam and we should continue to oppose this project. When we don't see the media talk about the continuation of construction on this project we worry. This project should be stopped permanently and should not be restarted ever again. We should protect Kachin State as well as the whole Irrawaddy from the impacts of the dam. The dam is suspended only for Thein Sein's term. We should not keep silent and make sure it is permanently stopped. Local villagers are very worried that the project will start again" said U Zaw Thet Twe, a journalist trying to form the Myanmar Journalist Union.
"Even though the Myitsone hydro project was suspended in September last year, until today the villagers are not allowed to go back home. Some families who went back were ordered to get out. Because of this the villagers do not believe that they really suspended the project. Now the Chinese are urging to continue with the project. From the beginning villagers and activists have demanded a public EIA and SIA for the project and to inform the local people of possible impacts during the assessment process. After that they can decide whether to build or not build the dam. I want to mention two points: first this government is a democratic government of the people so its decision will be based on the will of the people, so people need to be consulted before continuing. Second, the EIA they conducted was not done with proper standards so it is not acceptable. They must redo it in a proper way. When they do an EIA, they should follow international standards and include international experts. They need to explain and consult with all affected people" said Dr. Thun Lwin from Myanmar Climate Watch.
"This project is suspended according to the president's declaration. Why are they continuing against the president's order? They know the decision of the president and the will of the local people, why is the Chinese company urging to continue? Not only for china, for any country, we need help and we appreciate help, but if they really want to help they should do it without any force and binding. If they do like this, the sovereignty of Burma is not respected by the Chinese. If they push to restart the project, it is political interference" said U Soe Nyunt, Chairman of the Myanmar Bird and Environment Preservation Group.
The Myitsone is a rich ecological site and has many species of animals and insects. This is recognized by intellectuals both inside and outside the country.
The Burmese used the reason of protecting the Myitsone project to begin fighting with the Kachin army. Now the fighting is already nine months old.
"There is no peace in Kachin State. This is an important time right now. If the Chinese are talking about continuing the project right now this will just keep the two sides fighting. They shouldn't talk about this right now. It will surely affect the peace talks and the stability of the whole country. To oppose the Myitsone project is the duty of all Burma citizens" said one environmentalist from Mandalay.
CPI has invested US$ 3.6 billion in the Myitsone project. The total investment for the whole project is US$20 billion. Acoording to the leaflet that CPI distributed, after operating for 50 years, they have to transfer the project to the Myanmar government.
"I feel very sad to hear this kind of news again. When I heard the construction will continue, and that some villagers have been ordered to move out, it was a big shock. Everyone knows that the people across the country oppose this project. It will impact the whole nation economically and socially. We love our nation so we oppose this project. How can they ignore the voice of the people and continue this project? I would like to warn the company that the people will continue to oppose this project" said veteran journalist U Lutu Sein Win.
"How can they cheat the people like this? The project is suspended, how can they continue with construction? If so, it is the same as the previous military leaders, always cheating the people. The people never believed them so it is the same with this new government" said U Lutu Sein Win.
"At 8 pm I turn off my TV and I put down the newspaper because I don't want to hear or read the news. We cannot believe what the government says and what the news says. We hoped that the government had changed and the behavior would change. But if they don't change this behavior how can we have true democracy? Even if God establish democracy here but they still behave in this way, it is impossible to have democracy" said U Lutu Sein Win.
"After the decree of the president, no one should mention about continuing this project. There is no need to restart again. We need to know the information about the other dams upstream of Myitsone. What is their plan? We need to know the details, what are the Chinese planning. If necessary we should go back to the starting point and demand to know the details of these projects. After the Anglo-Burma war, this is the most serious agreement that the Burmese government has made. I feel this is like the Anglo-Burma war agreement [we are surrendering our sovereignty to the Chinese]. The Kyauk Phyu deep sea port and the pipelines are only for Chinese, not for us. Our people feel suffering but the Chinese get benefits. It is not equal status. We keep silent because we don't want to create misunderstanding between the two countries but these are very unfair deals. But actually who impacts the relationship between China and Myanmar is not the people opposing the project, but the CPI company. To solve this issue maybe we have to examine what has happened in an international court. Now Myanmar is preparing to enter the international community. When free and fair elections are finished, the international sanctions may also be lifted and our hope is growing. In this situation why is CPI interfering. The Chinese government should take serious consideration. Tanghpre village is being removed and destroyed because of the pressure of CPI. It is the same as losing the Myitsone and the Irrawaddy and the whole country. We need to protect Tanghpre village. This is our duty inherited from our ancestors. CPI should go home during this time and this situation in Burma" said Dr. Than Htut Aung, CEO of Weekly Eleven Media Group.
"They shouldn't do like this, they should have sympathy for the people. If they want to do these projects they should concern with local villagers and do according to international standards. The citizens of Myanmar never want this project. They should consider the will of the people, this is most important. They should know that this is the time to give a chance to practice the power of the people. They should know democracy is like this. It is very clear and there is no need to raise this issue again." said writer Ko Ta
"We should consider why is this going ahead even after the president declared a suspension. Maybe there is someone more powerful than the president? It is a constitutional question. The president himself promised, he should keep his promise in order to remain respectable. I believe he will keep his promise. There are always selfish people. We have grassroots people, intellectuals and lawyers to protect our national cause....This is a national issue related to all Burma's citizens, from Kawthaung to Sumbrabum. If we lose this battle our next generation will be slaves forever. We can never accept this situation. We have a good preparation; we are united on this issue. They should never think of continuing this project again. If we are united we don't have to fear anyone, even the biggest country of the world" said Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 88 Students.
"I was so happy when I heard that the Myitsone was suspended because of the voice of the people that my tears began to flow. I worry that now Thein Sein is decreasing his listening to the will of the people. We should not decide only based on economics we have to look at the whole picture including social and political structures. From every corner we need to analyze. We understand that the project is suspended at least for Thein Sein's term. If it is not suspended for his term, the president's power is challenged" said Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of the 88 Students.