Burma Halts Massive Dam Project

News could signal political thaw

Irrawaddy River, Burma

Irrawaddy River, Burma     Photo: DamienHR/Flickr

The government of Burma announced on Friday that it will halt work on the Myitsone Dam, a project that would have forced 15,000 Burmese from their homes and returned little of the dam's hydroelectric production to Burma itself. In a nod to escalating popular opposition to the project, President U Thein Sein told parliament that construction on the Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River would not proceed under his government, a startling reversal of Burmese government policy and a possible signal of a thaw in the country's political climate. In March, Burma—also known as Myanmar—transitioned to civilian control after decades under a repressive military regime. The proposed dam would have decimated several species of fish on the Irrawaddy, an historically symbolic river and the country's largest waterway. Construction by a Chinese firm began earlier this year and was expected to cost $3.6 billion. Under the construction agreement, as much as 90 percent of the dam's hydroelectric power, and 60 percent of its profits, would have flowed across the border to China.

Read more at The New York Times

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