Myanmar has tremendous potential for development and the government is on the right track. These are the comments of Stephen Groff, Asian Development Bank’s vice president for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
“I miss the Mekong.” A sad smile flickered across the face of Thongkham Phalibai, a mother of two and owner of a grocery store in Luang Prabang.
“I was living by the river for so long, earning money from gold panning and farming. But I can’t go back there anymore. I don’t know where my old house used to be.”
It has been four years since Thongkham left a simple life in her old village of Pak Neun for a new one in Neunsavang, a remote village 80 kilometres south of Luang Prabang. She was among the 2,986 villagers who were forced to resettle because their homes either sat on the location of the controversial Xayaburi dam or were in areas that will be flooded.
Another 12 plants under construction are scheduled for completion between now and 2020, causing growing concerns over environmental safety, especially in regards to ash disposal and air quality standards.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) has confirmed that all coal-fired power plants have submitted their environmental assessment reports to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Residents of Chipwe and Hsawlaw townships in Kachin State have joined growing calls for the government to scrap seven hydropower projects along the Ayeyarwady River, including the controversial Myitsone megadam in neighbouring Myitkyina township.
Youth groups and environmental activists have requested the government release the latest documents concerning the proposed Sambo hydroelectric dam in Kratie province, amid lingering concerns of the possible environmental damage the dam may cause.
The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) has urged the government to be transparent and to ensure accountability and responsibility regarding large hydropower dam projects proposed on the Salween River in eastern Burma.
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.
A power purchasing agreement was signed on Tuesday, during Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth chan-Ocha’s visit to the Prime Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith, while attending the 28th and 29th Asean Summits and related meetings from September 6-8 in Vientiane.
Thailand has increased its purchase of electricity from 7,000 to 9,000 megawatts from Laos this year to ensure sufficient supply and meet rising demand.
Mon activists yesterday attacked dam projects slated for the Salween River, releasing a report about the potential negative impacts.
“Given the recently renewed plans by the Myanmar government and Thai investors to build the controversial Hatgyi dam, our downstream communities share extreme concerns with all the other communities along the Salween about the impact of the dam on our livelihood and the environment,” said Mi Ah Chai, one of the lead researchers on the report by the Mon Youth Progressive Organisation.
The announcement that 1360-megawatt Hatgyi project would be resumed was made on August 12 by Ministry of Electric Power permanent secretary U Htein Lwin.
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.