Burmese troops arrive in Myitsone Dam area



A contingent of Burmese army soldiers have arrived near Myitsone Dam in Kachin State to enforce an eviction of displaced residents who sought to reclaim their homes after work on the controversial dam was suspended.

Over the past few months about 100 of Tang Hpre’s original population of 1,000 returned home, defying official government policy, according to the Kachin News Group (KNG).

The villagers, mostly farmers, were forcibly relocated in 2009 and 2010 to make way for the multibillion dollar mega dam project, which was scheduled to produce electricity to be transferred to China.

President Thein Sein ordered work suspened on the project in September 2011. Last week, however, Chinese officials said that talks have resumed between the two countries about the status of the project.

The KNG said five trucks carrying Burmese troops were sent to the area to enforce the eviction. Chinese workers are still living in hostels at the dam project site.

In a press release sent out earlier this week, the Kachin Development Networking Group, a group of activists at the forefront of the anti-dam campaign, said the government had already demolished most of Tang Hpre’s public buildings including schools. Three other villages that were relocated were completely destroyed following the previous round of evictions, KDNG reported.

Last week, the president of China Power Investment, the Chinese state-owned firm funding the project, publicly said it was ready to resume the project based on the Burmese government’s desires.

The planned 152-meter high dam was to be the first in a series of seven hydropower dams on the upper Irrawaddy River. Environmental activists said the dams would dramatically affect the lives of millions of people who live downstream. Environmental impact studies were not transparent, they said, leading to countrywide protest against the dam.

Photo : KDNG