Kachin, Myanmar, September 15, 2016
The investigation commission for hydropower projects on the Ayeyawady River is discussing the possibility of making a field visit to Kachin State on September 15, according to sources in Myitkyina.
“The commission has been discussing whether it would go to Kachin State. It may be on September 15, but it has not informed us of its plan or how many officials will make the trip,” said an unnamed official within the Kachin State government.
“The Myitsone project investigation committee will go to Kachin State on September 15 or 16. We will announce later how many officials will go,” said Dr Khet Aung, the chief minister of Kachin State, upon his return from the commission’s meeting in Nay Pyi Taw.
The Kachin State government has held preparatory meetings in preparation for the investigation commission’s arrival, local sources said.
The President’s Office announced that the formation of the investigation commission for the Myitsone dam project on August 12. T Khun Myat, the deputy speaker of the Lower House of parliament, serves as chairman of the commission, while Dr Khet Aung, the chief minister of Kachin State, and legal expert May Yi May serve as members of the commission.
The commission will meet with local displaced persons and town elders and document testimonies and conditions in the area during the field trip.
An 11-member Chinese delegation comprising Chinese ambassador to Myanmar Mr Hong Liang and Consul General Mr Wang Yu visited Kachin State in June. During the visit, the Chinese officials said they wanted to resume Myitsone dam project, that they wanted the Union Government to seek suggestions from the local people to help to negotiate its resumption and that they would make contacts to meet with local people.
Mr Lieu Zan, the director-general of China’s international business department, offered three options for the future of the dam project: (1) the dam project can be cancelled if the Myanmar government pays US$800 million in compensation, (2) the project can be completed, and the government will receive $500 million in tax or (3) the project can remain suspended, and the government will have to pay $50 million in interest.
Local residents who were displaced from five villages by dam project held a series of meetings where they decided to oppose the dam project under any future government in Myanmar. They held a press conference on September 9, 2016, where they issued a statement stating that Myitsone is the historic homeland of Kachin people and that they would all band together to stop the Myitsone dam project. They also pledged to return to their villages in and around the dam project area. They said any projects that ignore the wishes of local people and that lack transparency would not be tolerated.
The Myitsone dam project was suspended on September 30, 2011, by then-president Thein Sein.