A press release today from the Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) questions the independence of a third-party impact assessment of the Irrawaddy Myitsone dam in northern Burma, a large hydroelectric power development project managed by the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI).
Earlier this month, Chinese media broke news of an independent evaluation to be conducted by experts from the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). According to the KDNG press release, the ICOLD is comprised of national committees that include hydropower companies, and is the dam industry’s main lobby group. The KDNG asserted that ICOLD has close ties to CPI, and that the study would serve to “boost CPI’s bid to push ahead with the suspended project.”
In the release, Seng Mai of the KDNG said, “How can the global dam industry carry out an independent study? This is just another tactic by CPI to override the wishes of the people of Burma.”
The press release also states that an environmental impact assessment was already conducted in 2009, resulting in a recommendation that the dam not be built.
The dam project has frequently come under scrutiny since it’s inception in 2001 due to concerns about social, environmental, and economic impacts. In response to growing tensions and violent outbursts in areas surrounding the proposed project, President Thein Sein announced the suspension of the Myitsone Dam in September 2011. However, clashes continue, the latest resulting in the deaths of two Burmese Army soldiers less than two weeks ago.
For opponents to the project, the ICOLD commission is another sign in recent months that the dam project may be reinstated.
The Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) is a network of Kachin civil society groups and development organizations inside Kachin State and abroad.
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