Waingmaw residents call for end of Myitsone Dam project

wingmaw People protest against the Myitsone Dam project at a local park in Waingmaw township, Kachin State. Photo - Maran

23 Apr 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - Thousands of people in Waingmaw township in Kachin State protested against the resumption of the stalled Myitsone Dam project on Monday.

The protesters said they would prefer the state to be underdeveloped rather than to see the project resume because they said it would cause irreparable harm to the environment.

"If the region is undeveloped for not doing the Myitsone, so be it. We have always been poor. Our country is ranked among the poorest in the world. We only want to live; we don't want to be rich because of the project," said Rev. Tan Gun of War Shaung Baptist church.

The protesters chanted "Stop Myitsone forever," "Let the Ayeyarwady (river) flow forever," and "Abolish Myitsone Dam."

"I am at the protest as I don't like the project and I want it to be stopped. I'm afraid people will die if the dam collapses," said U Khaung Lwan of San Kar village.

The project was suspended in 2011 by the U Thein Sein government due to massive opposition to the project.

But China, which is funding the dam, is pushing for its resumption, warning that delays to the project may affect investor confidence in Myanmar.

U Thaung Tun, minister of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, told the media at the Myanmar Investment Summit in Nay Pyi Taw in January that negotiations are under way to change the size, scale or location of the project.

In March, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called on people to be more open minded about the project, adding that her government cannot just do away with contracts signed by the previous administration.

She told residents in Bago Region during a visit last month that her government will decide on big projects, including Myitsone, by considering their economic, social, political and environmental effects.

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