Villagers Protest Dawei Dam

More than 2,300 villagers in the town of Anyarphyar have signed a petition against the construction of a hydropower dam on the river outside their village in Tenasserim Division. The petition was sent to President Thein Sein on Monday.

The villagers are protesting that the dam will flood their fields. Myint Aung, a committee member of the village administration in Anyarphyar, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that “if the village is inundated, it will never recover.”

The site for the dam project is located some 20 km east of the Dawei Economic Zone and is scheduled to be one of at least two hydropower projects that will provide electricity to the multi-billion-dollar industrial plant and deep-sea port.

The project has been contracted to the Delco Company, based in Rangoon, which is also involved in tin mining in the area.

Construction of the 175-foot-high dam began in November and is scheduled to take three years to complete.

Apart from Anyarphyar, three other villages will be affected by the project: Darthwekyaut, Satechaung and Nyaungchaung. In total, more than 9,000 acres of cultivable land will be lost, say local farmers who mostly grow rubber, betel and cashew nuts.

“Our losses will be enormous,” said a farmer who asked not to be identified. “A one-year-old rubber tree is valued at 80,000 kyat [US $100] and can provide latex for more than 30 years.”

The villagers of Anyarphyar have also voiced complaints about the construction of a tunnel by the Myanmar Natural Energy Wave company, which will also destroy land and agriculture.

“They just came in and bulldozed about three acres of land,” said Myint Aung. “No representative of the company spoke to us about their plans.”

He said the petition was sent not only to the Burmese president, but to the Myanmar Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Energy and various political parties, as well as to the Delco Company.

When contacted by The Irrawaddy, Delco’s head office in Rangoon declined to comment.

Delco is a private firm invested in tin-tungsten and mixed ore mining in Kanpuak, near Dawei, a project that was initiated in 2007.

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