Development or Destruction? The human rights impacts of hydropower development on villagers in Southeast Myanmar

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Development or Destruction? The human rights impacts of hydropower development on villagers in Southeast Myanmar

Published date:
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Proponents of hydropower development in Southeast Myanmar see dams as a reliable, cheap and clean energy source essential for the sustained development of the region. Hydropower dams would also reduce the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels. However, dam projects in rural ethnic areas have historically been the sites of violent conflict. Dams are often associated with infringements of human and socio-economic rights. Villagers in these areas often face the immediate and long-term negative impacts of dams, while receiving little in return. This is because hydropower development tends to benefit a narrow set of local and national elites. Because some of the planned hydropower dams are set to export electricity to neighbouring states, they would result in few long-term benefits for Myanmar. Many of these proposed projects are designed primarily to export electricity to Thailand or China. The Mong Ton (Tasang) Dam, for example, would export 90 percent of its generated electricity to Thailand.