Beijing continues to press Myanmar to allow a restart to work on the Myitsone Dam. Myanmar’s President Thein Sein unexpectedly and unilaterally pulled the plug last September on state-owned China Power Investment Corp.’s controversial hydropower project in Kachin state near the headwaters of the Irrawaddy river. The issue was again raised by foreign minister Yang Jiechi during his Myanmar counterpart’s visit to Beijing this week.
Meanwhile, CPI is pressing ahead with a new feasibility study addressing the environmental and social impact of the dam, this Bystander understands. It is recruiting a group of international dam-building experts for the task. Contrary to some reports, this is not being done by the Paris-based International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), an influential industry standards group, according to a statement the organization issued at the end of last month. It did confirm that CPI had “directly asked experts coming from countries with long term experience in building and operating large dams to assess its work”. It also said that Myanmar had applied for membership of ICOLD, whose current president happens to be from the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research.
CPI and its sub-contractor Sinohydro have kept about 200 workers on site regardless of the suspension. As we noted before, any resumption of work would have to wait until the end of the rainy season in October. But the increasing pressure form Beijing is making hitting that deadline look increasingly likely.