Myitsone dam on Irrawaddy river, Myanmar


Back on September 30, 2011, it was reported that President Thein Sein had sent a letter to the Parliament announcing that the Myitsone dam project would be suspended because “it is against the will of the people.”

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Basic Data
NameMyitsone dam on Irrawaddy river, Myanmar
ProvinceKachin State
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe dam was to provide about 6,000 MW of power. Among the 20 largest in the world. This US$ 3.6 billion dam is one of several planned along the river. The main contractor was China Power Investment Corporation


The Myitsone Dam is part of the Confluence Region Hydropower Project (CRHP), which includes seven dams with a total installed capacity of 20,000 MW.

The dam was expected to flood 447 km2 including 47 villages near the construction site and about 12000 local people would be relocated in the resettlement villages. The Kachin activists in exile stated that the dam would submerge historical temples, churches and cultural heritage sites important to Kachin identity.
Project Area (in hectares)44700
Level of Investment (in USD)3600,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population12000
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesChina Power Investment Corporation (CPI) from China
Asia World Company from China
Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise ( MEPE) from Myanmar
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Burma
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBurma Rivers Network (BRN), International Rivers, Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Threats to use arms
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
OtherImpacts on the downstream flow and sediment regime
Health ImpactsPotential: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Militarization and increased police presence, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherArcheological remains
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.It seemed in 2011 that the project would be cancelled, but reports in 2014 say that it is going ahead despite Kachin complaints.
Sources and Materials

EJOLT Fact Sheet, 2011, Irrawaddy dam
[click to view]

Independent Expert Review of the Myitsone Dam EIA
[click to view]


Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 12 August 2011, Aung San Suu Kyi: China's dam project in Burma is dangerous and divisive
[click to view]

Burma Rivers Network
[click to view]

International Rivers, Irrawaddy Myitsone Dam
[click to view]

International Rivers
[click to view]

International Rivers, The Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River: A Briefing. Chronology
[click to view]

[1] Peter Hadfield, The Guardian, 4 March 2014, Burmese villagers exiled from ancestral home as fate of dam remains unclear Myitsone dam project, at the headwaters of the Irrawaddy, is caught in tug of war between the state and a Chinese corporation
[click to view]

Media Links

Burma's planned dams

From: Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent, The Guardian
[click to view]

Other Documents

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Meta Information
ContributorJoan Martinez Alier and Talia Waldron
Last update02/06/2014