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Environmental group appeals to China to stop Myanmar dam project
BEIJING, Oct 23 (AFP) Oct 23, 2007
An environmental group appealed Tuesday to the Chinese government and a number of Chinese enterprises to stop work on a dam project in Myanmar that threatens to block one of Asia's great river systems.

China Power Investment Corp. and China Southern Power Grid are among the handful of companies involved in building the Myitsone hydropower plant across the Irrawady river, the Kachin Development Networking Group said.

"We are approaching the companies and the Chinese government because this area is very important for our Kachin people," said a group spokesman, referring to the inhabitants of Kachin state, where the dam is located.

"We're appealing to the Chinese government to stop the dam project," said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified because of frequent trips to China.

The group warned in a statement the dam had serious social and environmental impacts, including the displacement of an estimated 10,000 people.

The Myanmar military junta allows Chinese partners to manage the project which will eventually transmit electricity to China and potentially generate more than 500 million dollars in revenue per year.

After an official opening ceremony in May this year, a permanent worker camp was set up at the site and survey work is ongoing.

Dams in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, have a poor safety record and recent breaks in 2006 have led to flood surges which have swept away houses and bridges, causing fatalities and destroying power stations, the statement said.

The Irrawaddy dam site is less than 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Myanmar's earthquake-prone Sagaing fault line.

Dam breakage would be disastrous for Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin State, which lies only 40 kilometres downstream, it said.

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