Saturday, April 11, 2015

Kachin state legislature tosses out question on stalled Myitsone dam

Myitsone, also locally Mali-N'Mai Zup at Irrawaddy River concluence , 27 miles norther of kachin state's capital Myitkyina, Northern Burma.aption
During a recent sitting of the state’s legislature, officially known as the Kachin State Hluttaw, officials from the Kachin state government refused to provide any details about the status of the stalled Myitsone dam and other large scale hydro projects set to be built in Burma’s most northern state.

A question about the status of the dam projects was submitted by An Fraung Gam, an elected state representative from the jade rich Hpakant Township.  According to Eleven News his question was rejected on April 2n by the Kachin State Hluttaw chairman on "grounds that it is an issue that has to be discussed at Assembly of the Union, not at state level".

Under the current constitution the state level legislatures have very little authority over much of what happens in their respective states and regions.  Hydro dam projects which are part of the national grid remain under the jurisdiction of central government authorities. Only small scale hydro projects that aren’t part of the national grid are under the purview of the state government and the state legislature.

While most of the electricity that was expected to be generated by the Myitsone dam was slated to go to China, a small fraction was supposed to go to the national grid and therefore the dam project and the other mega dams planned for the upper Irrawaddy fall on under the national parliament.

Backed by the Chinese firm China Power Investment (CPI) the deeply unpopular multibillion dollar Myitsone dam project was officially suspended by presidential decree in September 2011, a few months after a 17 year ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the central government dissolved.  None of the thousands of people forcibly evicted to make way for the dam have been legally allowed to return to their homes since they were displaced in 2010 and 2011.


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