» 09/06/2014, 00.00
CHINA - MYANMAR - THAILAND
Chinese dams on Thanlwin River threaten livelihood of Burmese villages
The alarm raised by Chinese, Burmese and Thai scholars at seminar in Mon state. The dams already present in the upper part of the river, in Chinese territory, have altered the course of the river and caused an increase in salt water. Fishing at risk as well as the survival of entire villages.
Yangon (AsiaNews /
Agencies) - A group of Chinese, Burmese and
Thai scholars currently holding a seminar in Mon State, southern
Myanmar, have raised the alarm about plans - under
development - to build six
dams on the Thanlwin River. Over 200 researchers and academics are attending a seminar at Moulmein University, to
share the latest discoveries in
the social and environmental impact of mega structures.
In particular, attention has focused on the consequences for the inhabitants of the communities living along the river, the longest in Indochina after the Mekong.
They also traveled to
nearby villages to ask how local residents have been affected by dams already
built upstream in China.
The workshop was organized by the Renewable Energy Association Myanmar (Ream), the Mekong Energy and Ecology Network (Mee Net) and Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance
academics said the livelihoods of farmers were being threatened not only by the
dams, but also by the chemical industries and hydropower industries developed
Meanwhile, the construction of dams in the upper part
of the Thanlwin River, in China, has already resulted
in a change in the current, which has led to an increase of the salt water in the main river and
its tributaries. The increased salinity of the water has caused soil erosion and, over
the years, resulted in the
disappearance of entire villages and islands in the delta
of the Gulf of Martaban, at the
mouth of the river (which rises in the
highlands of Tibet) in the
South Myanmar, together with large
tracts of agricultural land.
Min Min Nwe, a
coordinator for a Mon development group who helped organize the workshop, notes that waste from chemical
industries has seeped into the river, harming fish and prawns while affecting
the growth rate of insects and sails, which are damaging crops. He says "at farms along the Thanlwin River, large snails are
destroying the rice paddies".
Of the six dams
planned for the river, two would be in Shan State (construction has already
begun on one of these), while one would be in Kayah State and three would be in
Karen State. Experts say once the Thanlwin river is dammed
upstream, the people living downstream, will see a rise in tide and
deforestation, while animals like fish and birds will perish. The researchers would like to "avoid" such a
scenario and have delivered a
comprehensive report to Parliament
on the effects of dams.
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