Govt releases long-awaited environmental guidelines for megaprojects

YANGON — The government on Thursday announced new assessment requirements for investment projects that could cause environmental and social harm.

The new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures, drawn up with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank, specify the type and scope of environmental assessments required for all investment projects in the future.

Lack of proper EIA guidelines in the past has led to numerous complaints from communities affected by huge development projects such as the China-built onshore oil and gas pipelines running from Rakhine State to the Myanmar-China border, the Myitsone hydroelectric dam in Kachin State and the onshore pipeline connecting gas reserves in the Bay of Martaban to neighbouring Thailand, constructed in the early 1990s.

“Myanmar’s EIA process will effectively help prevent the potentially adverse environmental and social impacts of development projects and contribute to the nation and people achieving sustainable development,” Daw Thet Thet Zin, Deputy Minister of Environmental Conservation and Forestry said of the new guidelines.

ADB helped the ministry draw up the guidelines as part of its Greater Mekong Subregion program.

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“The EIA Procedure and environmental quality guidelines reflect the Myanmar Government’s progress in putting in place laws, regulations, and processes to manage its economy in a more environmentally sustainable fashion,” said Mr. Winfried Wicklein, the ADB Country Director in Myanmar.

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