Shan State, January 16, 2018
Civic groups in Shan State on Monday lambasted a plan by the Myanmar government and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank’s private sector arm, to build a hydroelectric power project in the state.
“Any central government attempt to proceed unilaterally with dams in ethnic conflict areas, when control over natural resources is still being negotiated, is dangerous and provocative,” the Action for Shan State and Rivers (ASSR), an umbrella group of several nongovernment organisation, said in a statement.
“From the outset, ASSR has been against this strategic environmental assessment, which is just a ploy to push ahead with the building of large dams….against the wishes of local communities,” the statement said.
The IFC has been organising meetings to finalise a countrywide strategic environmental assessment for the hydropower project since 2016.
On December 23 of last year, about 1000 residents and farmers from all over Shan State protested in Tangyan township against
proposed hydropower projects on the Salween River, including the Naung Pha dam, which will export power to China.
“The IFC should have called off its ill-fated assessment long ago,” ASSR said.
“Now, with conflict escalating in all parts of Shan State, and with the next Union Peace Conference in doubt – after preparatory consultations for the Shan National Dialogue were blocked last month by the Burma Army – the holding of the IFC’s meeting in Taunggyi is even more unwelcome.”
Sai Khur Hseng, a leader of the Shan Sapawa Environment Organisation, said the holding of the meeting in Taunggyi is offensive, as the govt blocked the holding of national discussions on ownership of natural resources.
“It is adding insult to injury for the IFC to hold a stakeholder discussion now,” he said.
ASSR also expressed regret on the amount of funding spent by the Australian government on this hydropower assessment, when AusAID, among other donors, has cut all funding for Shan refugees and IDPs along the Thai-Burma border.