Residents urge govt to halt Upper Yeywa dam project in Shan

Photo An undated photo of the construction work at the Upper Yeywa dam. Photo - Supplied

​27 Aug 18 - Villagers in Thibaw township, Shan State, are urging parliament to stop the construction of the Upper Yeywa dam project on the Namtu/Myitnge river, saying it will harm their livelihoods and flood their homes.

Source: Myanmar Times

Ta Long villagers sent an open letter to 23 parliamentary committees in the Amyotha Hluttaw (upper house) and Pyithu Hluttaw (lower house) in Nay Pyi Taw, last week seeking an immediate stop to the project.
"The government planned to give compensation to Ta Long villagers for their homes and fields. After MPs visited the project site, the plan was not changed. The villagers don't want to leave their homes to move to a new location," said Sai Kham Aung, a member of the state parliament in Shan.

Environmental group Action for Shan State Rivers said in a statement that it fully supports the demands of the villagers to stop the project.

It said the villagers opposed the dam project since it was proposed in 2008 because there was no transparency in its planning and it did not take into consideration the effects on local residents.

"The government should not proceed with a project so strongly opposed by local people. It will only fuel conflict in Shan," Khur Hseng, a spokesperson of group, said.

The group said the recent dam disaster in Laos, which killed scores of people and displaced thousands of villagers, has instilled the fear of a possible disaster of the same magnitude in communities along the Namtu.

The feasibility study for the ill-fated Xe Pian Xe Namnoy dam in Laos was carried out by the Swedish firm AF Consult, the same group that designed the Yeywa dam, the only dam on the Namtu, completed in 2011.

Ta Long village has 653 people, 637 acres of orchards, 140 acres of rice fields, and countless hill farms, as well as temples, pagodas, and schools, said Sai Htam Aik, a resident.

"We don't want to lose our native villages and environment because of the dam. We don't need it; we just want to stay peaceful. If the project continues to force on us, the villagers will continue to oppose it," he said.

"The democratic government has to listen to the voice of the people," he added.

The 790-megawatt (MW) Yeywa Hydropower Project is on the Myitnge river (lower reach of the Namtu River), about 50 kilometres southeast of Mandalay. The project comprises a 134-metre-high roller compacted concrete dam with a 790MW power station located on the left bank at the foot of the dam and an un-gated spillway located in the central section of the dam for flood water discharge.

The project was started in 2008 and it will be finished by 2020.

The project is one of four controversial dams planned on the Namtu in northern Shan, which is an active conflict zone. Companies from China, Japan, Switzerland and Germany are involved in the project.

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