Mekong Utility Watch

Dams on Salween threaten indigenous groups

Marwaan Macan-Markar, Inter Press Service

February 28, 2007

Article excerpt} … “We still do not know where we will be moved. The officials who came to survey our village and the nearby area did not ask for our views or discuss the plans,” says Nu, whose village has thrived on an economy of rice and vegetable farming for nearly 100 years.

“‘That is why we are against the dams being built on the Salween.” The predicament faced by the villagers of Me Koh is one shared by other communities, too, both on the Thai side and the Burmese side of the international border. Activists estimate that over 80,000 people will be forced out of their homes due to large tracts of land expected to go under water. Many of those likely to be affected live close to Burma’s eastern border, which is home to ethnic communities such as the Karen, Shan and Karenni. Even the international border is destined for change, since a part of the Salween serves as a geographic divide between the two countries. The cloak of secrecy that has been thrown over the construction plans — which involve state-owned power entities in Burma, China and Thailand — was brought to light Wednesday by local environmentalists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). “The entire decision-making process for the planning and implementation of the Salween hydropower development projects has been shrouded in secrecy,” a coalition of NGOs stated in a letter of protest that was handed to Thailand’s minister of energy. … Read the full story. [PDFver here]

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