By Ye Mon | Wednesday, 08 February 2017
The struggle goes on over whether the controversial Myitsone dam and other hydropower projects along the Ayeyarwady River should be built, following indications that further reports on the projects are needed.
A member of the commission for reviewing and scrutinising hydropower projects along the Ayeyarwady River, speaking on condition of anonymity, said members are preparing to meet to begin research and work on a second report.
“I think the meeting will start soon,” he said, adding that although the country’s president (U Htin Kyaw) didn’t give instructions to submit further reports, “the commission has to do it”.
The commission is responsible for reviewing the hydropower projects to determine whether they are an environmental hazard – and if the proposed dams are beneficial to residents living in those areas, in particular the Myitsone dam in Kachin State.
The previous government signed an agreement in 2006 with a Chinese company to build the Myitsone dam, which is targeted to generate 4600 megawatts of power on the country’s biggest river, the Ayeyarwady.
As part of the plan, Chinese company China Power Investment (now Upstream Ayeyarwady Confluence Basin Hydropower Company) set up a new village in 2009 to relocate the residents from Tan Hpre, Pa Tan and Myitsone villages near the hydropower project area.
The Chinese company was to jointly develop the dam with a Myanmar company, Asia World Company Ltd. The project was suspended in 2011 by then-president U Thein Sein, who cited widespread public opposition.
Contributing to Myitsone’s unpopularity was the widespread displacement of populations in the project area, concerns about the dam’s environmental impact and the terms of an agreement that would see some 90 percent of the electricity generated channelled to China.
The Myanmar Times tried to get a comment from CPI on this latest delay, but was unable to contact a company representative.
The company previously said in a statement that it will continue to make efforts to cooperate with the commission in its investigations.
The controversial dam was on the agenda when State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met Chinese leaders in Beijing last year. Since then, the Myanmar government has deferred making any major decision, saying that it would have to await the results of the Ayeyarwady River Commission’s review.