The role of mega-development projects is very important for the development of the country. That is why the government of Myanmar has opened the door for investment from other countries. A lot of mega-development projects are now being implemented across Myanmar and there are plans for Kayah State.
Currently in Kayah State, the main mega-development projects are dam projects. Over the past century, the government has constructed and systematically increased the capacity of the LawPiTa Hydroelectric Power Plant. For this, the Mobye Dam with a 168 Megawatt capacity was built. The government now intends to construct another mega-dam in Kayah state: the Ywarthit Dam of 4500 megawatts capacity on the Salween River. There also plans for a smaller dam on the Pon River.
Implementation of mega development projects such as industrial zones, dams, logging and other investments in natural resources have large impacts not only upon local indigenous people but also upon the environment. The lands of local indigenous people are confiscated; the heritage of local indigenous people is destroyed; the natural environment is destroyed and many social problems are brought by mega-development projects. The reasons for the problems caused by mega development projects are; over-centralization, weaknesses in policy and laws, lack of transparency and accountability, lack of respect of local indigenous people’s rights and a lack of welcoming the local people’s cooperation.
Specifically, mega-dam projects have already affected many local people in Kayah (Karenni) State as a result of displacement because of the Mobye Dam. There is now public opposition to the proposed Ywarthit and Pon river dams. Local people fear for the destruction of Southeast Asia’s only remaining major free flowing river, the Salween, and for their own livelihoods and security.
Kayah Earthrights Action Network (KEAN) is now working for social and environmental justice within communities who face numerous negative impacts because of mega development projects. In order to prevent negative impacts of mega development projects and increase local people’s rights, KEAN raises local people’s awareness concerning investment laws, investment policy, indigenous rights; Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC); international mechanisms and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) processes.
Furthermore, regarding mega-development projects, KEAN documents the pros and cons of the projects and uses those documents to advocate stakeholders in order to strengthen transparency and accountability when and after implementing projects. KEAN uses three methods, education; documentation; and advocacy, to solve the problems caused by mega-development projects and raise communities to access social and environmental justice.
Elegant control – Kayah State’s 50,000 Hectare Farm City Project reveals the subtle and cunning encroachment of corporations into democratic Myanmar
by Saw Eh Say
International investment has an important role to play in the development of any country and is generally accompanied with various types of mega-development projects. One type of mega-development project attracting investment in Myanmar, as well as globally, is large-scale agriculture. Myanmar’s prioritizing of agricultural development reflects its status as a developing country with an agriculture-based economy where approximately 70% of the population reside in rural areas and rely primarily on agricultural work to sustain their livelihoods. As foreign investment enters the country, foreign investors are directing diverse initial investments towards large scale agricultural projects. One type of investment for agricultural development, widely backed by foreign investors, is contract farming. Towards the end of 2016, an international investor from the agricultural sector approached and proposed an investment within Kayah State. Read More
by Khon Soe Moe Aung
Local people have many concerns about proposed dams on the Salween River (Ywarthit Dam), Nam Pawn Creek (Nam Pawn Dam) and Nam TaBet Creek (Nam TaBet Dam) in Kayah (Karenni) State.
The local people demand to know: “Why are they building more dams? Is there not enough electricity for our state from the existing LawPiTa Hydropower Plant? Who gave permission to build dams? How big are these dam projects? How will they be built? What is the general publics opinion? What will be the extent of the impact? Who will take responsibility for this impact? Read More
Written by Kayah Earthrights Action Network (KEAN)
“Currently, we don’t need projects like this; the time is not right. Just do another project that truly benefits the local people” said a local person facing threats for opposing a 4,000 ton a day cement factory project proposed in their area by Square Power Group Company.
Since 2011, the company, Square Power Group Co. Ltd comprised of Asia Square Power Co. Ltd, Golden Gate international Co. Ltd, Happy Cook Manufacturing Co. Ltd, New Step Services and TOM International Company Ltd has been attempting to implement a cement factory for the production of 4000 tonnes of cement, daily in PaGye region, Kayah State (Approximately 1 mile from Loikaw City). The background of the investors in the companies is a combination of families related with generals under the past government military. For the first steps of the project in early 2011, the investors got permission from the Myanmar Investment Commission to use 500 acres of land for the factory and a further 700 acres of mountain land for extracting limestone and raw materials. Read More