Australian hydro company facing ‘resistance’ to dam project role

YANGON — Australia’s Snowy Mountains Engineering Corp is facing mounting criticism over its role in a massive dam project on the Thanlwin River, an Australian newsagency reported last week.

SMEC is undertaking environmental and social impact studies on the proposed US$8 billion Mong Ton dam in Shan State but its efforts to hold local meetings and consultations have met “significant” resistance, Australian Associated Press reported on July 28.

Community meetings to discuss what is also known as the Tasang dam have been disrupted or cancelled because of protests against the Chinese-Thai project, AAP said.

It quoted a SMEC statement as saying it has had limited success in its efforts to achieve a participative, inclusive and transparent consultation process.

The Burma Rivers Network says the proposed hydropower project on one of the world’s last free-flowing rivers will be the biggest of five dams on the Thanlwin and, at 228 metres, the highest in Southeast Asia and taller than China’s massive Three Gorges Dam.

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BRN says if the Mong Ton dam is built its floodplain will extend nearly as far as the border with China, displacing tens of thousands of people.

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