Blocking a Bloodline: Communities Along the Tanintharyi River Fear the Impacts of Large-Scale Dams
The Tanintharyi River is one of southern Myanmar’s largest free-flowing rivers. Starting at the confluence of the Ban and Kamoethway Rivers in Dawei District, the river runs down through the Tanintharyi Valley until it empties out into the Andaman Sea in Myeik. The river and its tributaries support tens of thousands of indigenous people and vast areas of high conservation value forest.
There are a total of 76 villages, 6,118 households and 32,008 people living directly along the Tanintharyi River, who depend on it as a vital source of food security, water, transportation and cultural expression.
Plans to construct large dams on the Tanintharyi River stand to submerge an area of 144,557-acres1 , potentially displacing up to almost 7,000 people in 32 upstream villages, and significantly impacting the livelihoods, access to water and transportation of over 22,000 in 42 downstream villages. Local communities have never been substantively consulted on these plans.
The proposed dam would also have catastrophic environmental impacts, destroying rich aquatic ecosystems and habitats, and inundating vast areas of pristine forest, destroying some of South East Asia’s largest remaining intact forest and biodiversity. The Tanintharyi River is also situated in an area that has seen more than six decades of civil war, which forced tens of thousands to flee their homes, hiding in the forest or refugee camps on the Thai border. Following a preliminary ceasefire agreement signed in 2012, armed conflict came to a halt. Communities also fear the impact that the dam will have on peace and stability in the region, and the future for returning IDPs and refugees, who may be forced to relocate again.
In light of the risks and threats posed by proposed dams on the Tanintharyi River, communities call on the government, the KNU and dam developers to listen to their voices and refrain from moving ahead with projects which will adversely impact them and the surrounding environment.
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Burmese report here.