Home Insider What’s Happening with the Myitsone Dam

What’s Happening with the Myitsone Dam

The stalled US$3.6 billion Myitsone Dam saga has left the area in a state of limbo.

Local residents are still in a determined mood to have the project completely shut down in a bid to save their local environment, but the dams Chinese developers are equally determined to have their project restarted. They reportedly lost US$50 million while the project was closed down last year. The project, started in 2011, is still only five percent completed and the continued delays are causing a great deal of tension between the two governments.

It is also fuelling a hot tempered power play between President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The government is adamant that the project will not be restarted, but also refuses to totally cancel it. This has prompted the opposition leader to accuse the government of being negligent in its responsibilities to the nation and “not being brave enough” to make a decision on the project. When asked her own views on the project, she  declined, just saying “Questions about the project should only be asked to the president”.

The dam’s developer is the state owned China Power Investment, and they believe the dam would greatly improve the quality of life by bringing hydropower to the nation and at the same time bring in US$54 billion in tax payments. Last December, the company made a statement in its CSR report saying that the project would not cause major environmental damage. It would also create in the region of 40,000 local jobs.

Local residents are quoted as saying that the dam would take away fertile farming lands in this predominantly agricultural community. Also, at least 90 percent of the electricity produced would be channeled to China’s Yunan state.

China Power Investment’s managing director, Mr Li Guanghua, was quoted as saying, “We have worked on hydropower projects in 12 countries… but have never faced anything like we have in Myanmar. Without electricity, there can be no development or international investment.”