NGO: Halt hydropower projects in Ngaw Chan Hka



The Kachin Development Networking Group on Tuesday urged all mega hydropower projects that will be built on the Ngaw Chan Hka River and other rivers in the state to be stopped immediately, as they would adversely affect the livelihoods of ethnic people in the area.

Ngaw Chan Hka River of Kachin State is one of the major tributaries of the May Kha River and there are plans which would block Ngaw Chan Hka River.

The group made the demand after releasing a report titled, “To protect and preserve the plains of Ngaw Chan Hka”, at a press conference in Yangon on Tuesday.

There are about 17 villages in Chipwi and Hsawlaw townships on the plains of Ngaw Chan Hka River, where more than 4500 ethnic people live, such as Ngaw Chan, Lachik, Lauwaw, and Lisu, the report stated.

“The report took almost a year to complete. We started in September 2016. Our group, in cooperation with the Ngaw Chan locals, surveyed the whole region. We also have plans to submit it to the government. I think we might be able to submit it by the end of the year. Furthermore, in order for this to be known not just for the related departments, but also internationally, we’ll be advocating,” said Ko Zaw Mine from the group.

There are plans to construct four dams along Ngaw Chan Hka River as part of the 50 large hydropower projects for the Myanmar government. The electricity will be sold to other countries.

It aimes to increase electrical production, from hydropower source, from 3000 megawatts to 4500MW by the year 2030, the report said.

“The plains of Ngaw Chan Hka River were green and lush before. But now, due to mineral extractions, wastewater enters to the streams, causing fish to die. As a local here, I just want to say that Ngaw Chan Hka dam shouldn’t be built, that’s the main thing we want,” local resident U Lawa Tite Saung told The Myanmar Times.

Residents are worried that the houses, land, culture, which lasted many generations in Ngaw Chan Hka plains, might vanish and the various medicinal plants growing along the riverbank and the natural environment might also be damaged beyond repair if the constructions take place.

Moreover, although a letter has been sent to the president in 2016 concerning the water dam project, the government has yet to respond, according to local residents.

The dam project was started by China’s International Energy Cooperation and Development Corporation, and will generate 1200MW, stated the report.

According to the report, China Power Investment built the hydropower dam at Chipwi Nge near Ngaw Chan Hka region but the company did not compensate farmers for land that was destroyed.

The wastewater produced by the dam is destroying crops and fish near the river. 

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