Kunlong hydro project delayed over security concerns

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09 July 2015 | Myanmar Times | Aung Shin

Source: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/business/15422-kunlong-hydro-project-delayed-over-security-concerns.html

The Kunlong hydropower project in northern Shan State has been delayed due to security issues, according to officials.

The project is located on the Thanlyin River, near to the Chinese border, where ethnic armed groups are based.

The government plans to build at least six major hydropower dams on the Thanlyin, also called the Salween, which flows from China into Myanmar, passing through the Shan, Kayin, Kayah and Mon states, into Thailand and the Andaman Sea.

U Aye San, director general of the Department of Hydro Power Implementation, told The Myanmar Times on July 7 that “The project is still in process but is being delayed due to security issues.”

A feasibility study and environmental and social impact assessment survey (ESIA) have been completed by third parties, and the project is now due to be submitted to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).

“We will present details of the initial investment to the MIC. We have already estimated the total project costs,” said U Aye San.

If it goes ahead, the completed Kunlong hydropower dam project would have an installed capacity of 1400 megawatts and Myanmar would have the right to buy 12 percent of generated electricity.

Hanergy Holding Group and Gold Water Resources from China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the project in 2007 with the Ministry of Electric Power (MOEP), formerly known as Ministry of Electricity.

The companies signed another memorandum of agreement in 2010 for work to begin. Asia World Group from Myanmar is also involved, through a partnership with Hanergy Holding Group.

The feasibility study was carried out by Hydrochina Kunming Engineering. Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (Banca) from Myanmar and Khiti Engineering Institute from China conducted ESIA surveys but they have not yet been made public.

“According to the surveys, four villages in the area will be flooded if the dam is built. The villagers have agreed to move, and we paid K3.6 million to them last December for their rubber plantations,” said U Aye San.

The Kunlong project is one of the largest hydropower projects in Myanmar to be developed through a joint venture with foreign and local companies. The government is planning at least 50 hydropower projects around the country through build-operate-transfer and joint venture agreements.

The security in Kunlong area is unstable due to past clashes between the Tatmadaw and the armed wings of several ethnic armies.

In 2010, government troops launched an offensive to seize control of the area but the Kokang army resisted, forming a Border Guard Force (BGF). Serious fighting broke out again between government troops and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in February this year.