About 150 villagers, community leaders and monks in Mong Ton township, southern Shan State held a blessing ceremony to protect the Salween river on Monday morning at the Pithakat Hongtam temple.
Sai Nong, a villager from Mong Ton said, “We made merit to ward away bad things from the Salween. We don’t want dams to be built on the river. We refuse to let this happen. We [local community] strongly oppose all dam construction.”
He explained: “Many of our highly respected stupas and pagodas, such as Ho Lerng temple, will be destroyed. Villages will be damaged by the flood and the local people will have to struggle.”
The planned Mongton dam is going to be built just 20 kilometers north of Tha Sala village.
Late in the afternoon, the Australian consulting company, the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) met with the residents, asking their opinion about the advantages and disadvantages of the Mongton dam project.
A political party member in Mong Ton said that the construction companies had not informed local people about the dam construction. They were now starting work along the ridge of the mountain.
The residents said they did not know anything about the process, and had not been provided with information. Moreover, local residents are not allowed to go near the area of the construction, where there is tight security.
According to residents who live near the construction site, trucks can be heard passing near their houses every night.
“There are a lot of trucks going to the construction site every night, but we don’t know what sort of things they are carrying there,” said a local resident.