Damned Dam

BBC News – Burma dam: Work halted on divisive Myitsone project.

Burma’s president has suspended construction of a controversial Chinese-backed hydroelectric dam.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who recently joined the anti-dam campaign, welcomed the move, seen as a rare victory for social activists.

The dam, mostly paid for by the Chinese government, would export most of it’s hydroelectric power to China.  It would also inundate an area rich in biodiversity.

Opposition to the dam by the Kachin ethnic group had grown violent over the past year, since many of their villages would be displace by the flooding behind the dam.

The campaign against the project brought together conservationists, environmentalists, Kachin activists and the political opposition.

Their objections ranged from the lack of public consultation to the potential environmental impact of the project.

The dam would create a reservoir of some 766 sq km (300 sq miles) – about the size of Singapore – and displace thousands of ethnic Kachin villagers, our correspondent says.

The halt of construction was a surprise to observers; China has not yet weighed in with their reaction to the news.

The vast majority of the power produced on the dam was to be exported to China, and correspondents say the dam had served to inflame growing anti-Chinese sentiment in Burma.

Beijing is investing vast sums in a series of big infrastructure projects aimed at exploiting Burma’s rich natural resources and geographic position in the region.

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