New Hydropower Dam for Burma’s Military Capital to Displace Thousands

Salween Watch Coalition
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Over 3,500 people, including many ethnic Kayan, will be displaced by a new dam being built in the Pyinmana Hills that will boost power to Burma's military leaders.

"Drowning the Green Ghosts of Kayanland," a new report launched today by the Kayan Women's Union reveals how the Upper Paunglaung Dam, being built with Chinese investment, and slated for completion in December 2009, will flood a fertile valley 26 miles east of Burma's new capital Naypyidaw.

The 99-meter Upper Paunglaung Dam will produce 140 megawatts of electricity and store water to increase the generating capacity of the Lower Paunglaung Dam, completed in March 2005, which currently powers Naypyidaw.

Burma Army troop deployment to provide security for the dam construction has caused increased forced labour and other abuses for local villagers, in direct contravention of the ceasefire agreement between the Kayan New Land Party (KNLP) and the Burmese military regime.

The KNLP was originally formed in 1964 to protest another dam, Burma's first major hydropower project, the Mobye Dam in Karenni State, which flooded 114 villages, eventually driving many Kayan, including "long-necked" Padaung, to become refugees in Thailand.

"Forty years ago, we Kayan people lost our sacred lands to provide electricity to Rangoon. Now again the dwelling places of our guardian spirits will be submerged to power Naypyidaw," said Mu Kayan of the Kayan Women's Union.

The Upper Paunglaung Dam, being built by the Yunnan Machinery and Export Co. Ltd (YMEC), is one of 24 major hydropower dams being planned or built by Chinese companies in Burma.

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