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  • » 10/02/2008, 00.00

    MYANMAR - CHINA

    Myanmar, Kachin rebels oppose dams on Chinese border



    The pro-independence group denounces the population's lack of involvementin the construction of new hydroelectric plants. They have blocked the work, but have withdrawn their militias after the payment of a "tax". Environmentalists fear possible damage to the ecosystem.

    Yangon (AsiaNews) - The Kachin pro-independence movement is opposing the construction of a series of hydroelectric dams along the northern border between Myanmar and China. This is revealed by sources close to the ethnic rebel group which, despite signing a peace agreement with the Burmese junta in 1994, exercises substantial control over the area and frequently engages in armed clashes with government troops.

    The Kachin denounce their lack of involvement in the agreement, signed in 2007, between the ruling dictatorship and executives of the multinational China Datang Corporation; the agreement provides for the construction of nine hydroelectric plants along the Chinese border.

    Tension broke out two weeks ago over the refusal on the part of Chinese authorities to pay a sort of "construction tax" to the leaders of the ethnic rebels; in response, the rebels sent militia groups to the construction sites to block work on the dams. Tarpein 1 and Tarpein 2 are the first two in a series of nine dams planned by the Burmese energy ministry, in collaboration with Chinese companies. They take their name from the river that runs through the northern city of Momauk, and once they begin functioning, they will provide 240 and 168 megawatts respectively.

    Sources close to the pro-independence movement confirm that the work resumed a week ago, after the payment of 1.5 million yuan (a little more than 220,000 dollars) by executives of the construction companies. The agreement was overseen by the new commander of the northern brigade, General Soe Win, who mediated between the parties, permitting work to resume.

    In addition to the economic interests and control of the territory involved, the Burmese-Chinese project has unleashed protests from environmentalists who are afraid of serious repercussions for the environment. "The fear", reveals environmental expert Naw La in interview with the Irrawaddy, "is that the local population is not being involved in the project, and must pay the consequences. The benefits will go only to the Burmese government and to the Chinese companies, while the inhabitants of the villages will suffer serious damage from deforestation and flooding".

    The most important of the nine hydroelectric plants being built is the one in Myitsone: it will be located 42 kilometers north of Myitkyina, capital of the state of Kachin, and will produce about 3,600 megawatts of electricity.

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    See also

    25/03/2011 VIETNAM
    Damming the Mekong: water and food at risk for millions of people
    Vietnam and other countries discuss dam construction on the Mekong River. Experts say construction should be halted to study its impact. The lives of millions of people are at risk. But China and others are hungry for cheap electricity.

    22/09/2009 CHINA
    China to build its first foreign nuclear plant
    China’s nuclear industry is asserting itself by building nuclear power plants as alternatives to polluting coal-powered ones. Its firms are exploring and developing uranium deposits around the world and exporting made-in-China technology.

    15/02/2008 THAILAND - MYANMAR
    Leader of Burma’s biggest rebel group killed
    Mahn Sha, head of the National Karen Union, was shot to death last night at his home in Thailand. Suspicions on the authors of the attack: hit men for the junta or members of the separatist Karen Buddhists group. The leader had recently warned of an increase in violence in the wake of the announcement of a May referendum in Burma.

    09/02/2009 RUSSIA - CENTRAL ASIA
    Moscow having trouble maintaining role of "hegemony" in Central Asia
    In strengthening ties with Uzbekistan - and access to its gas - Russia risks disappointing the demands of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The three states are discussing the use of water resources, and waiting to see what position Moscow will take.

    03/04/2008 INDIA - MYANMAR
    India and Myanmar: economic cooperation in the millions
    In spite of international pressure to boycott the military junta, New Delhi is accelerating its economic plans: the military second in command and the Indian vice president sign an agreement for the construction of a vast network of freight transport, which will guarantee the eastern part of the union access to the sea and to energy resources.



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