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  • Govt sidesteps controversial Thanlwin in hydropower push

    09/19/2016

    U Htay Aung, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Electric Power and Energy, told The Myanmar Times last week that the projects – the Shweli (3), Upper Yeywa and Upper Kyaing Taung dams – are seen by the ministry as a means of meeting energy-deprived Myanmar’s electricity needs, while noting that the earliest expected completion dates were 2020.

    Along with a fourth dam under construction in Rakhine State and a fifth in Nay Pyi Taw’s Pyinmana township, the projects’ electricity generation will total more than 1500 megawatts, he said, nearly half of Myanmar’s current installed capacity nationwide.

  • Dam committee meets Myitsone residents

    09/19/2016

    Kachin residents have expressed their refusal to accept the Myitsone dam project when the Investigation Commission for Hydropower Projects on the Ayeyawady River visited Myitsone.

    The committee met town elders and MPs at the Myitsone Resort, asked about the livelihoods of villagers and the environmental damage caused by gold mining.

  • Why silt is so important for the Mekong

    09/15/2016

    Just as forests are more than only trees, rivers are more than water. The Mekong river carries massive loads of sediment and nutrients from upstream to downstream and across national borders, replenishing and enriching the land as it goes. This process is key to sustaining the ecological integrity of the river and surrounding landscapes, which in turn supports the economy.

    However, a boom in sand mining and hydropower development on the Mekong is transforming the river’s sediment flows, with profound consequences for the region if left unchecked. For a prosperous, sustainable future for the region, all Mekong countries must come together now and adopt international standards for managing transboundary river resources.

  • Ethnic Activists Voice Alarm Over Salween Dams

    09/12/2016

    Ethnic Shan, Mon and Karenni environmental activists have voiced strong concern over alleged government plans to push ahead with hydropower dams on the Salween River, which they believe would destroy the livelihoods of ethnic communities.

    At a press conference in Rangoon on Wednesday, Shan environmentalist Sai Khur Hseng of the Sapawa organization claimed that U Htein Lin, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, said during a closed-door meeting in Naypyidaw in August that to fulfill Burma’s energy needs, planned dams should proceed on the Salween [also known a the Thanlwin] River.

  • Myanmar’s Suu Kyi assures China of solution to stalled dam

    08/19/2016

    Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi told China’s premier on Thursday that her new government is willing to look for a resolution that suits both countries to a suspended Chinese-funded hydropower project in northern Myanmar, a senior Chinese diplomat said.

    Finding a solution to the US$3.6 billion Myitsone dam project is important for Suu Kyi who needs China’s cooperation in talks with Myanmar’s ethnic minority armed groups operating along northern borders with China.

  • China’s Three Parallel Rivers national park threatened by illegal mining

    08/16/2016

    China’s best preserved forests in south-west China’s Yunnan province are under threat from illegal mining, according to a new report.

    The study by Greenpeace shows mining and industry activity in the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan protected area is destroying pristine forests in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. The researchers combined remote sensing data and field visits to show mining is leading to deforestation, water pollution and habitat loss in the mountains of north-west Yunnan on the eastern foothills of the Himalayas.

  • China’s lack of cooperation causing problems for Vietnam’s water resources programming

    08/15/2016

    According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MARD), the total area of the entire Red-Thai Binh River basin is 169,000 square kilometers, of which 86,700 square kilometers, or 51.3 percent, belong to Vietnam, 81,200 square kilometers (48 percent) to China and 1,100 square kilometers, or 0.65 percent, to Laos.

    Tong Ngoc Thanh, director of the National Center for Water Resources Planning and Investigation (NAWAPI), said at a workshop held recently that since China was uncooperative, and that it was difficult for Vietnam to get information for development programming about the water source in the upper course belonging to the Chinese territory.

  • New Commission to Decide Fate of Myitsone Dam in Kachin State

    08/15/2016

    President Htin Kyaw on Friday formed a new commission to evaluate all proposed hydropower projects on the Irrawaddy River prior to their going ahead.

    The committee formation comes a week before State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s trip to China as Burma’s foreign minister.

    Since the installation of the National League for Democracy (NLD) government in April, China has been lobbying for the resumption of the multi-billion dollar Myitsone Dam, which was being constructed with Chinese backing just downriver of the confluence that forms the Irrawaddy, in Kachin State, prior to a government suspension order in 2011.

  • Into the Zone: SEZs in the Mekong Region, Income…or Instability? (Part 2)

    08/15/2016

    While neighboring Thailand’s Special Economic Zones are now progressing without much public consultation or review, Myanmar may be moving in the opposite direction. Its three SEZs which were launched in the waning years of the junta, are now under the direction of the civilian government fully aware of concerns raised by communities and independent researchers, and inclined to take stock of what their predecessors set in motion. At issue are a whole range of social and environmental grievances, as well as the viability of the projects themselves and to what extent they reflect the new leadership’s priorities.

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