People displaced by the Myitsone Dam want to return home. In 2010, over 2,500 were relocated to Aung Myin Thar Camp and Ma Li Yan Camp by the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) – the company that was building the dam. But the houses they were given are fragile and therefore not safe against strong winds, argues local civil society group, Mungchying Rawt Jat (MRJ).
“Water is also insufficient and unhealthy, local women face the risk of being sexual assaulted by migrant workers, and no are job opportunities. Things here are not as good here as state media and company releases say,” said Jar Khaung.
Everyone at the camps want their old lives back, before CPI turned their worlds upside down.
The Myitsone dam is a 6000-megawatt hydropower project that was being built on the N’mai and Mali rivers that join to form the Irrawaddy - Burma’s largest river. The dam project is part of a seven dams mostly financed and built by the Chinese state owned CPI. Most of the electricity it would generate was slated to be exported to China.
At San Pya, another camp in HuKaung, residents are just as unhappy. The Yuzana Company, which has heavy stakes in gold mining and tapioca plantation in the area, relocated 1000 people since 2008. The company made the same false promises; to provide them with a hospital, schools and proper roads. But according to MRJ, in the 5 years since the relocation started nothing has materialized.
“Practically all of the houses are in poor condition, there is no maintenance. San Pya Camp is full of trouble,” U La Seng told Burma News International recently.
The affected communities have created a list of demands to the Burmese government. These include: to return to their ancestral lands, to remove the restrictions on land that has been made off limits, to return ownership of all estates that were been taken by CBI and Yuzana, to end the 7 dam projects instead of suspending them, and for the International Labour Organization (ILO) to investigate the Yuzana Plantation Project for human trafficking and forced labour.
Although the Myitsone Dam Project was stopped by President Thein Sein in September, 2011, after facing widespread opposition, local environmental groups say it was only suspended and construction could start again.
During the National League for Democracy recent trip to Beijing, executive committee member Nyi Pu said that CPI expressed interest in restarting it at a dinner meeting.
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