Chinese Dam Incurs KIO Wrath
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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Chinese Dam Incurs KIO Wrath

By SAW YAN NAING Wednesday, October 1, 2008


A Chinese-Burmese joint project to construct a series of hydroelectric dams in Kachin State has met with resistance from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), said sources close to the armed ethnic group.     

The KIO, which signed a ceasefire with the Burmese junta in 1994, was reportedly unhappy that several projects to build dams in Kachin State in northern Burma were agreed in 2007 between the Burmese regime and representatives of the China Datang Corporation (CDC) without consulting the KIO, which claims control over the area.

Tensions soared two weeks ago when Chinese authorities refused to pay tax to the KIO, which responded by deploying soldiers around the two dams in progress—Tarpein 1 and Tarpein 2—which are being constructed on the Tarpein River in Momauk Township by Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power No 1 and a conglomerate of Chinese companies, including China Datang Corporation.

Soon after two battalions of armed KIO soldiers took up positions around the dams the Chinese construction workers on the project fled, causing construction to be suspended.  

Sources close to the KIO said that the workers returned and the project resumed about one week ago after Chinese authorities paid 1.5 million yuan (US $220,916) to the KIO. The negotiation was reportedly mediated by newly appointed Commander of Northern Command Brig-Gen Soe Win.

The Tarpein 1 hydroelectric dam is designed to generate a capacity of 240 megawatts and is located about 3.5 miles (6 km) from Momauk Township, while Tarpein 2, which should generate 168 megawatts, is located about 6 miles (10 km) downstream of Tarpein 1.  

According to a Kachin environmentalist, Naw La, who is dam project coordinator of the Kachin Development Networking Group, about 30 percent of the Tarpein 1 construction has been completed.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, Naw La said, “Our concern is that the authorities don’t allow local residents any involvement in the decision-making process. Not only that, the profits from the dams will only benefit the Burmese government and Chinese authorities—not the local residents.

Detrimental environmental effects—such as deforestation and flooding—will most likely result if the dams are completed, he added. 

The Burmese junta has agreed a plan with Chinese representatives to build a total of nine hydroelectric dams in Kachin State, the largest of which—the 3,600-megawatt Myitsone hydropower project— is due to be built about 26 miles (42 km) north of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state, according to the Kachin Environmental Organization.

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