Tag Archive for 'Salween River'

Children of the Salween River

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“At least 20 dams have been proposed for the mainstream Salween River, which flows from the Tibetan Plateau in China, through Burma and Thailand to its delta in the Andaman Sea. 13 are located in China, with two sites already undergoing preparatory work (Songta and Maji); none have been approved. Another seven are in Burma; two have been suspended but two more, the megadams Tasang and Hatgyi, are under active consideration. China and Thailand plan to invest in both.

The likely impacts of these dam cascades range from destroying fisheries and high biodiversity zones to flooding fertile land, from displacing over a hundred thousand largely indigenous peoples to triggering earthquakes and risking dam failure in this seismically unstable region. Of gravest concern for Burmese communities along the Salween, however, is the violence that has erupted around the Tasang and Hatgyi dams between the Burmese military and indigenous groups like the Karen and Shan. Tens of thousands have already been forced to leave their homes to escape the violence and occupation of their homes by the Burmese army.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

Escalation of civil war in Burma necessitates immediate halt to Salween dam plans

Photo retrieved from: www.foreignpolicy.com

“Following recent heavy fighting in northern Shan State, all the planned Salween dam sites in Burma now lie directly in active conflict zones. The Salween Watch Coalition is therefore demanding an immediate halt to all plans to build dams on the Salween River in Burma.

This applies directly to the Governments and Corporations of China and Thailand as well as the new Government of Burma
On March 13, 2011, Burma’s military regime broke its 22-year-old ceasefire with the Shan State Army-North, and mobilized over 3,500 troops to launch a fierce attack in central Shan State, shelling civilian targets, committing gang-rape, and displacing thousands of civilians. The fighting has now spread across northern Shan State, to areas adjoining the two planned upper Salween dam sites.
The attack is part of a systematic campaign by the regime to wipe out all ethnic resistance forces, including ceasefire groups, which have refused to come under their control prior to the November 2010 election. Since the election, fighting has intensified in Karen, Karenni and southern Shan States, around the five other planned dam sites along the Salween, and now has spread to northern Shan State.
The dangers of dam building in Burma’s war zones should be evident to Thai and Chinese investors. It is impossible to adhere to meaningful dam building standards when communities are silenced by violence.  Apart from the direct security risks to dam building personnel, investors risk their reputations by partnering with a regime that is fuelling escalating conflict.
We are encouraged that the Thai government has since 2010 called for further studies into the impacts of the Hatgyi dam in Karen State, including its human rights impacts. This is a welcome first step into a proper process of transparency and accountability around the planned Salween dams. However, the Thai government and Thai companies are simultaneously proceeding with plans to build the giant Tasang dam in southern Shan State. Only days after Burma’s election, on November 11, 2011, Thailand’s EGAT International and China’s Three Gorges Group Corporation signed an MOU with Burma’s military rulers to develop the Tasang dam, increasing the investment to 10 billion USD. New surveys are currently being carried out in the area, under heavy armed military escort. There has been no transparency around this process whatsoever.”
Read more: Salween Watch

For the Freedom of Rolling Rivers

Wang Yongchen on her 10th journey to the Salween River. Photo retrieved from: www.china.org.cn

“In order to gain a better understanding of the Salween River issue, Wang set out on a nine-day expedition with volunteers and media reporters in February 2004. This first trip to the Salween River produced a large number of pictures and written and audio records. When the voyagers returned to Beijing, they financed the “Love Salween River” photography show.

“We just want to introduce the beauty of the Salween River to more people and gather more support from them,” they said. “Even if the power station goes on to be built, we still need to tell the public and later generations what the river was once like.”

According to Wang, there are options available in choosing potential sources of energy, but there is no way to turn the clock back once the natural eco-environment has been destroyed. “A lot of people will be displaced in order to develop hydropower in the government’s poverty relief effort. But will they gain prosperity once removed from their roots? From their traditions? How many generations did it take to form their customs and culture? And it could all be destroyed in the blink of an eye.”

On February 18, 2004, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao wrote in his instruction on the Salween River dam project that: “A scientific decision will be made through cautious discussion on such a large-scale hydropower project that has generated widespread public concern and provokes different opinions from environmental groups.” When the instruction was issued, Wang and her friends were still wandering in the valleys of the river. When she read the news on her cell phone, she couldn’t help but cry aloud.”

Read more: China.org.cn

Tibet’s watershed challenge

Retrieved from: japanfocus.org

“While Tibet raises a number of controversial questions, one dimension will assume increasing political significance: its water resources. The Tibetan Plateau, known to many as the “Third Pole,” is an enormous storehouse of freshwater, believed by some to be the world’s largest. It is the headwaters of many of Asia’s mighty rivers, including the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Brahmaputra, Indus and Sutlej. These vast water resources are of course vulnerable to environmental challenges, including climate change, but they are subject to an array of political issues as well.

“Should China be the lone stakeholder to the fate of the waters in Tibet? What happens in the downstream nations that depend heavily on these rivers? China has exploited all but two rivers from the Tibetan Plateau; an exception is the Nujiang River, which flows through Yunnan province and enters Burma, where it is known as the Salween. China’s north-south diversion plans on the Yarlung Zangbo (known in India as Brahamaputra), the other untouched river, are bound to worry India, a downstream state.

“China’s rise in recent years has been displayed in military capability, economic pace and, now, water diversions. By 2030, China is expected to fall short of its water demands by 25 percent. Its increasingly aggressive hydrobehavior is intended to secure its massive water requirements in its northern and western regions. But control over such a valuable natural resource gives Beijing enormous strategic latitude with its neighbors; when one of those countries is a rival, such as India, it becomes an effective bargaining tool and potential weapon.”

read more: Washington Post