China ignores own Irrawaddy dam studyBy Asia Sentinel Jul 19, 2011 7:09PM UTC
China Power Investment’s assessment calls for Burma’s Myitsone Dam to be scrapped, reports Asia Sentinel
The state-owned China Power Investment Corp. is continuing with the controversial Myitsone Dam on Burma’s Irrawaddy River despite its own 945-page environmental impact study calling for the project to be cancelled, according to a report by the Burma Rivers Network, which obtained a copy of the study.
The decision to ignore the negative environmental assessment is hardly unusual. A fondness for massive engineering projects on the part of China’s leaders, many of them engineers, has kept Beijing continuing to build, with the consequences to be dealt with later. The consequences have often been disastrous.
A case in point is the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River, the world’s largest hydropower dam, which also went ahead over the objections of environmentalists. In May, in a rare admission, the State Council issued a warning that a combination of environmental, construction and migration disasters is causing “urgent problems.”
While the Three Gorges dam has been beneficial to the region, the State Council said, “Urgent problems must be resolved regarding the smooth relocation of residents, ecological protection and geological disaster prevention.” Among these problems are that water quality in the Yangtze is said to be worsening because the dam prevents dispersal of pollutants. Algal blooms continue to develop progressively and soil erosion is causing riverbank collapses and landslides.
In Burma, thousands of workers and equipment already have been moved to Kachin State and construction has begun on the Myitsone facility and a second one, the Chibwe, over the objections of local villagers, according to the Burma Rivers Network.
Six villages have already been forced to relocate from the catchment areas although villagers complain that the relocation camp provides inadequate health and education facilities and that there is neither enough farmland nor water. The dams are opposed by affected communities across Burma. China Power’s own assessment warned that “the majority of local races oppose construction of the dams” and called for consultation with and consent of affected peoples, according to the NGO.