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New government urged to stop all Thanlwin dams


Thanlwin (Salween) River, which makes up a large scale section of the northern Thai/Myanmar border. Photo: EPA

Thanlwin (Salween) River, which makes up a large scale section of the northern Thai/Myanmar border. Photo: EPA

The Thanlwin River Protection and Conservation Network has called on the new government to stop all Thanlwin dam projects. The group issued a 7-point statement on February 22 and called on the government to stop all the projects being built on the river.

Thein Zaw from the network said, “My attitude is that we have to stop all dam projects on Thanlwin River. These projects will not benefit the people in any way, either environmentally, socially or in relation to peace.”

The statement says that the dam projects will cause human rights violations, the loss of fundamental rights, and can create tensions among ethnic armed organizations in the area. Moreover, the dam projects will threaten the lives, property and livelihood of the local people as the Myanmar Army may operate in the area, the statement said.

The network will reportedly send a letter to the National League for Democracy (NLD) regarding discussions with them on stopping construction.

NLD party spokesman Nyan Win told Mizzima, “The dams on Thanlwin River are a concern in relation to environmental protection. And we need to consider other issues seriously too but it is immature to say now what we will do and what will happen. It is too early to say who will be in the new government and how the government will be formed. Until now we have not yet had official contact or discussion with them [the network].”

President Thein Sein’s government will build five dams on the Thanlwin River namely Naungpha, Tarsan, Ywathit, Wegyi and Hatgyi in bilateral agreements with foreign countries including China. They can generate total electrical power of 15,000 MW.

The statement issued by Thanlwin River Protection and Conservation Network says Chinese companies and the Myanmar government signed agreements on February 2 to build 18 of a total 29 proposed dams.

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