Farmers fleeing Myitsone Dam face economic challenges

Farmers who fled their lands to make way for the Myitsone Dam project are now struggling to earn livelihoods.

According to the farmers, although homes, roads and access to electricity are available to them, there is no land for farming. They have to travel about ten miles from their village to do farming and cultivation.

Most of the people who have been forced to move oppose the Myitsone Dam project.

One villager said: "There is no cemetery or playground. We have travel ten miles to do cultivation. The cultivated lands are not good, and they are owned by other people. We received little compensation for our lands. Now we are the project's refugees. We request that the project stop."

The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS) met the dispossessed farmers this week and donated various items to improve their health, education and livelihoods.

Mya Aye from 88GPOS said: "The 88 Generation has strong policy regarding with the Myitsone Dam project. We can't allow the project in any way. We met with officials from the China Power International (CPI) and told them our policy. The Myitsone area is the heart of Kachin ethnic heritage. Therefore, we can't accept the project no matter how much financial benefit we get from it."
Since many people have had to move away to make a living, the number of empty houses in the villages around the Myitsone areas has steadily increased.

There are 1,904 households in 47 villages that have had to relocate because of the project. Villagers from Malizut Village (Myitsone area), Tanpae, Shwepa, Kadanpa, Donban and Labae villages have moved to Aungmyinthar Village and Maliyan Village, where cultivation is difficult.

CPI seeks to build seven hydropower dams to complete the Ayeyawady Hydropower Plant project.

The project is expected to produce 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

The former government of Myanmar permitted the project on May 28, 2010.

President Thein Sein announced a halt to the Myitsone Dam project on September 30, 2011 due to public opposition. The project has not been conclusively cancelled.