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  • Residents in Myitsone urge President to end Myitsone Dam project

    05/13/2016

    Residents in the Myitsone Dam project area have urged President Htin Kyaw and the new government to end the Myitsone project so that relocated villagers can return to their villages

    “If the new government does not end this project, how must we, the residents, live? Our hearts are pounding. I want to cry. We have suffered repeatedly from troubles. If the project is not cancelled, I am sure that I will die there,” Ja Hkaung, whose farmland in Tan Hpe village was confiscated due to the project, said in a press conference.

  • Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

    05/10/2016

    In the late 1980s, Chatichai Choonhavan’s government promised an ambitious water diversion project to provide a constant supply of water to the dry Northeast.

    Local politicians promoted the Khong-Chi-Mun project, telling the expectant farmers of Isan they would never want for water again.

    But today, locals such as Pha Kongtham, 65, from Ban Don Samran in Roi Et’s Phon Sai district sees nothing but the remnants of failure.

    Under the project, which spanned various governments until realisation, 14 dams were built in the Chi and Mun rivers, the main water sources of lower Isan. But the majority of them have now stopped operating.

  • After Myanmar protests, China says companies should respect laws

    05/10/2016

    China has consistently demanded its companies operating abroad respect local laws, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday after hundreds of villagers in Myanmar protested against the resumption of operations at a Chinese-backed copper mine.

    The protests have gathered momentum since last Wednesday when some people broke through police barriers protecting the mine, operated by Myanmar Wanbao, a unit of a Chinese weapons maker, in one of the first tests for the new government’s ability to deal with public anger.

  • Downstream countries concerned over water diversion

    05/09/2016

    “If Thailand’s Mekong diversion project takes place in the dry season, the Mekong’s water flows to Cambodia and Vietnam’s delta will be reduced significantly,” said Le Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Research Institute for Climate Change at Vietnam’s Can Tho University.

    “The coastal areas of the delta will face serious saline intrusion. The agricultural production and water supply, as well as the ecosystems of the Mekong delta, will have big negative impacts.”

    The drought has already caused significant damage to the Mekong delta. Mr Anh Tuan said as much as 70km of the mouth of the Mekong river had been contaminated by salt.

  • Amid Fish Deaths, Social Media Comes Alive in Vietnam

    05/04/2016

    In Vietnam, a scandal surrounding the mass die-off of fish has created an explosive wave of debate and activism on social media, particularly Facebook. Responding to the social media outcry, many rallied in cities across Vietnam on Sunday, during a national four-day holiday. The rallies took place at an unprecedented scale, spanning three regions.

    The protests responded to the mass deaths of fish, a crisis that has been ravaging Vietnam’s four central-coast provinces since early April. The environmental disaster has killed thousands of fish and caused financial and environmental damages to fishermen and people living in what was already one of the country’s most vulnerable regions. The cause is unconfirmed as yet, but many Vietnamese suspect pollution from a steel plant operated by a subsidiary of Formosa Plastics Group.

  • Dawei residents protest against $3 billion oil refinery

    05/04/2016

    A collection of civil society groups in the southern city of Dawei has begun to actively protest a Chinese-led US$3 billion proposal to build Myanmar’s largest oil refinery on their doorstep.
    Local businesses, civil society organisations and villagers are circulating a petition calling for the new National League for Democracy-led government to reconsider the project – which received approval on the last full day of former president U Thein Sein’s administration.

    Local residents were hardly involved in the approval process, according to the appeal, which suggests the environmental effects of the 100,000-barrels-per-day project may be catastrophic.

    More than 2000 people from six villages have signed the petition, according to the Dawei Development Association.

  • Mekong Delta loses half of silt to upstream dams: scientists

    05/03/2016

    Le Van Nam has difficulty sleeping at night thinking of the fall in yields year after year on his rice field allegedly due to less silt being washed down the Mekong River because of upstream dams.

    “In the last winter-spring crop, my 5,000 square meters only produced 3.5 tons of rice while it was four tons the previous year,” the farmer from An Giang Province said.

    Declining flows down the Mekong River due to the building of dams upstream have been partly blamed – as have severe droughts — for reduced yields and worsening erosion in the delta.

    According to the An Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, floods in the 4,900-km river used to bring silt and fish.

    However, declining flows in recent years have made the land less fertile.

  • Myanmar media still repressed: watchdog

    04/26/2016

    Myanmar remains one of the most repressive media environments in the world, according to a new report.

    The 2016 World Press Freedom Index, prepared by international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, ranked Myanmar 143 out of 180 countries included in the assessment.

    The overall score for the country worsened last year, despite ongoing political changes. The ranking is based on several factors, including media pluralism, independence, legislative framework and transparency.

  • Major Study Warns Planned Dams May Severely Harm Mekong Delta

    04/23/2016

    A major new study warns that a planned cascade of hydropower dams along the Mekong River could cause “very high adverse effects on some of the key sectors and environmental resources in Cambodia and Viet Nam.”

    Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has just publicly released “Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River”, also known as the “Delta Study.” The study used models to simulate various dam construction scenarios. And the results raise alarm bells for the over 60 million people who rely on the Mekong Delta for their livelihoods.

  • Myanmar: The Dawei Special Economic Zone

    04/19/2016

    Investor confidence in the long-delayed Dawei special economic zone (DSEZ) is growing after Japan signed on as a third equal partner with Myanmar and Thailand this December. Japan’s backing may finally kick start construction of the billion dollar project that has been crippled by funding shortfalls since 2013. If it’s ever finished, the deep-seaport is expected to rival the one in Singapore, opening a new gateway to the Malacca Strait from the western Myanmar seaboard. The 196 square km special economic zone – scaled down from initial estimates of 204.5 square km – would become one the biggest industrial parks in Southeast Asia.

  • Prey Lang Protection Moves Forward

    04/19/2016

    The Environment Minister said he would draw up a proposal to protect the remainder of Prey Lang’s roughly 300,000 hectares after flying over the area with the US Ambassador, NGOs and development partners yesterday.

    Minister Say Sam Al said the announcement was a turning point for the government, calling on all development partners to cooperate with each other in order to reach an agreement.

    “The size of the last forest was more than 300,000 hectares. Now it’s a good sign for us to make an agreement to make Prey Lang a protected area at once. It’s not an easy issue, it’s a difficult issue,” he said.

    The minister added that he has been studying Prey Lang with local authorities and will organize a workshop in the next few days to discuss the proposal before sending a sub-decree to the Council of Ministers for approval. “What we did with the ambassador was preparing Prey Lang as a protected area.

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