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Myanmar's surprise suspension of dam project

Myanmar's surprise suspension of a controversial US$3.6 billion hydropower dam project "is the first time I can recall that the regime has responded to popular opinion", said Benedict Rogers of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, according to a report in the Asia Times.

An image of Myanmar An image of Myanmar
  • Myanmar
  • October 4, 2011
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China has reacted coolly to Myanmar's surprise suspension of a controversial US$3.6 billion hydropower dam project it backed in the country's war-torn Kachin state. Hitherto cautious observers have greeted the stoppage as the first tangible reform move undertaken by the Myanmar's six-month-old, nominally civilian government led by former general Thein Sein. (Simon Roughneen, Asia Times)

According to the government, work on the controversial Myitsone dam will be suspended "according to the desire of the people". The announcement followed an upsurge in popular opposition to the project, where certain members of the old military elite and Aung San Suu Kyi-led political opposition found rare common cause. The project threatened the headwaters of the Irrawaddy River, the cradle of Burmese civilization.

Benedict Rogers of the London-based advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide and author of a 2010 biography on Myanmar's former military dictator Senior General Than Shwe - a man thought to still wield immense influence from behind the scenes - told Asia Times Online that "this is the first time I can recall that the regime has responded to popular opinion and therefore must be welcomed".

That approval will not extend to China, which was scheduled to receive an estimated 90% of the estimated 29,400 million kilowatt-hours of electricity which the dam would have generated after its 2019 completion date, according to the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party.

FULL STORY

Myanmar buys time with dam block (Asia Times)

PHOTO CREDIT

jmhullot on Flickr

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