Statement by Karenni Civil Society Network on International Rivers Day

March 14, 2015

The Karenni Civil Society Network (KCSN), on International Rivers Day, is demanding that the Myanmar government and foreign companies halt all planned hydropower projects on the Salween and other rivers in Karenni State.

Despite lack of concrete progress towards lasting peace, development projects have been proceeding without transparency in Karenni state, including planned dams on the Salween and Htoo rivers. Surveying for the planned Ywathit dam on the Salween by engineers of China’s Datang Corporation has been continuing over the past year.

Karenni state is very small and if more mega hydropower projects are built, there will be a lot of land loss. There has been an agreement between the government and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) that there must be consultation with local communities regarding any mega projects, but this is not being put into practice.

On November 20, 2014, engineers visited Pasaung and informed local people that the Kayah state government is planning to build a dam on the Htoo Chaung river. Villagers were shocked to hear that the reservoir would be 33 square miles in size.

Impacted communities include the Yintale, a small ethnic group numbering only about 1,000 people.

“I do not agree with the dams to be built on the Salween and Htoo rivers because we, the Yintale people, will face big problems if something goes wrong with the dams. Our people rely on these rivers,” said a 50-year-old villager from Wan Au in Pasaung Township.

Thousands of local villagers have already fled from villages along the Salween River, due to forced relocation operations during 1995 and 1996. Most fled to refugee camps on the Thai- Burma border. If the dams are built, they may never be able to return home.

Therefore, the KCSN is urging the Myanmar government and foreign dam-building companies to immediately halt all plans to build dams in Karenni State.

Contact

Ko Reh (+66) 821962258

Ree Myar (+95) 931848078

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