Myanmar shelves major dam project
The Myanmar government has suspended a $3.6 billion Chinese-led hydropower project in an apparent concession to public opinion.
President Thein Sein said on Friday that his government had to act “according to the desire of the people,” Reuters reported.
Sein made the remarks after weeks of rare public outrage against the Myitsone dam, which is the largest hydropower project in the country.
Officials said the construction of the Myitsone dam has been shelved for the entire five-year term of the president.
Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition movement, welcomed the government’s decision, saying, “It’s very good of them to listen to the voice of the people.”
She had previously warned that the project would require 12,000 people from 63 villages to be moved to make way for the dam, which would also threaten the flow of the powerful Irrawaddy River.
Aung Zaw, the editor of Irrawaddy magazine, said, “It is a bold decision with the underlying message that we cannot kowtow to whatever China wants.”
“This could be another turning point for which direction Burma (Myanmar) goes in the next decade,” he added.
The military junta in Myanmar made the proposal for the Myitsone dam project in 2006 and signed a contract in 2009 with the Myanmar military-backed Asia World Company and China Power Investment Corp to build it.
The dam would have been built where the Mali and Nmai rivers form to become the Irrawaddy, which flows from northern Kachin state through half of the length of the country to the Andaman Sea and is a national symbol and lifeline for millions of people.