Shan, Myanmar, September 20, 2015
Villagers and CSOs from Shan State and Karen State on 10 March protested against the Mong Ton hydropower project during the first public consultation meeting held by the Australian consulting firm, the Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation (SMEC) in Taunggyi, Shan State.
According to the SMEC presentation, it is proposed to build the dam on the Salween River, 19 km from Wan Hsala village of Mong Ton township and 90 km from the Thai-Burma border at Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai Province.
The hydropower project is expected to take 14 years to complete. It will produce an estimated 7,000 megawatts, of which 90 percent will be exported to China and Thailand, with 10 percent reserved for domestic use. The dam project will affect about 12,000 residents in Shan State.
Sao Haymar Thaike, chairperson of the Shan State Women Development Organisation (SSWDO), said what concerned her about the project is the resettlement and migration of villagers. “The people who will be affected are my women and children of Shan State. How can you guarantee their safety?”
“And what I would like to request from you is, please have second thoughts about dams on the Salween because we consider the Salween as a virgin river. So we don’t like to do anything that would affect the Salween River” said Sao Haymar Thaike, one of the surviving daughters of Sao Shwe Thaik, the first president of the Union of Burma.
“We will continue to oppose the dam. We can’t let it happen because we want the Salween to be a virgin river. We don’t want a dam on it.” said Sao Haymar Thaike after submitting a protest letter to a representative from SMEC.
Karen activists from Karen River Watch in Karen State also send a statement to oppose the project.
“We are against the dam. We have conducted research along the river. We are really amazed that you will do the EIA/SIA within two years or 96 weeks. Within 96 weeks, there will be over hundred thousand villagers, How can you do a complete EIA/SIA?” said an activist from Karen River Watch.
Michael Holics, the SMEC team leader, said there will be many more public meetings that SMEC will undertake for each of affected districts and there will be a report from the field survey work.
SMEC is due to submit its EIA/SIA report in the third quarter of the year, and says it will conduct 16 public consultation meetings in related townships.
After the public consultation, the participants from Karen State and Shan State CSOs also shouted the slogan “Salween River, No Dam” outside the meeting hall of the Taunggyi Hotel,.