Save River Irrawaddy

  • by: Maung Win
  • recipient: Chinese President Hu Jintao
The China Gezhouba Group is building a dam on the confluence of the Mali and N'Mai rivers in Kachin State, one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots. Once complete it will flood the rainforest with a reservoir the size of New York city and displace 10,000 people, mostly Kachin ethnics, as well as submerging cultural heritage sites central to Kachin identity, according to International Rivers. The Burma Rivers Network, an NGO which represents communities along thre river, said China's massive huydropower investments had widened the gulf between the government -- which wants to benefit from cross-border electricity sales -- and Kachin independence groups, which fear the dams will bring environmental, cultural and social disruption. The environmental group has released what it says is a leaked environmental assessment jointly commissioned by the Burmese and Chinese authorities that recommends scrapping the project because it would cause immense damage to bio- diverse ecosystems as local livelihoods as well as posing great risks in the event of an earthquake.
These concerns were reiterated by Burma democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who said the dam was dangerous and divisive.  "Since the commencement of the Myitsone project, the perception long held by the Kachin peole that successive Burmese governments have neglected their interests has deepened," she said in her statement.  "We would urge that in the interests of both national international harmony, concerned parties should reassess the scheme and cooperate to find solutions that would prevent undesirable consequences and thus allay the fears of all who are anxious to protect the Irrawaddy.
Both sides of the authorities (China and Burma) must stop their projects for the safety of Irrawaddy and for the safety of Kachin people before it is too late.
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