Aussie Dam consultants Call Off Public Meeting on Mong Ton Mega-dam as 300 Kunhing Villagers Plan Protest

The Australian Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation’s (SMEC) cancelled its plans to hold a public meeting to discuss the Mong Ton mega-dam on the Salween River after hearing that hundreds of villagers were going to hold a protest against the dam.

The Shan Human Rights Foundation said in statement released to the media said that a public meeting planned by the Australian consulting group for April 30 in Kunhing, southern Shan State, was called off after “when over 300 local people, including a Shan MP, gathered to raise concerns about the planned Mong Ton megadam on the Salween River.”

The Shan Human Rights Foundation said that “on April 30 from 1 pm to 3:30 pm, more than 300 local people from Kar Li, Kun Hing, Keng Lom, Keng Kham, Nong Kheo, Wieng Pui, Ho Pang, Hsai Khao, Wan Lao, Kung Pao, Hsai Khao Jarn, Wo Long, Na Pao, Wan Part, Nam Lan, Hsai Moan and Na Lin Lieng gathered at Nam Pang hall, Kunhing township, planning to stage a protest against a public meeting organized by the Australian Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC), which was to be held in the City Hall of Kunhing township.”

The Shan Human Rights Foundation said that when news of the villagers protest got out, “the public meeting was abruptly cancelled.”

The Shan Human Rights Foundation said that the protestors decided to hold, “their own public gathering.”

The Shan Human Rights Foundation said that Nang Wah Nu, a Shan Nationalities Democratic Party MP for Kuning, joined with the protesters.

The Shan Human Rights Foundation said that the protesters “released a statement demanding that the dam be halted. They raised concerns about the damaging impacts of the dam on thousands of people and historical sites, the lack of guarantee of political rights, and the fragility of current ceasefires.”

The Shan Human Rights Foundation pointed out in its media statement that, “Kunhing township will be hugely impacted by the Mong Ton dam. The historical Keng Kham area, comprising over 100 villages along the Pang tributary, will be almost completely submerged, including numerous islands which give the township its name (Kunheng means “thousand islands” in Shan).”

The Shan Human Rights Foundation noted in its statement that the “original population of the Keng Kham area is over 15,000, but many fled to Thailand to escape brutal anti-insurgency operations in 1996-1998, involving forced relocation of over 300,000 people in central Shan State.”

The Shan Human Rights Foundation said that the public meeting organized by the Australian consultants was the second in recent months.

“On April 6, SMEC organized a public meeting in Mong Ton, and about 150 people from Mong Ton and surrounding areas protested against the dam. If built, the Mong Ton dam will be the largest in Southeast Asia. It will produce 7,000 megawatts of electricity, 90% of which will be exported to China and Thailand.”

This mega dam is a joint venture between China Three Gorges Corporation, China Southern Power Grid, Sinohydro, The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, and the International Group of Entrepreneurs Co. (Myanmar).

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