Myanmar power plans could spare the Salween

Asia Times

Myanmar and Thailand have announced plans for major gas power projects, as well as greater moves to adopt renewable energy sources. The news will cheer conservationists battling to prevent large dams being built on major rivers in the north of Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi-led government aims to tackle the country’s chronic power shortage by building four gas-fired power plants over the next three years.

Officials from the Ministry of Electricity and Energy said the plants, to be located in western Rakhine state and the commercial hub of Yangon, would double the country’s generation capacity, currently at around 3,000 megawatts. They put the total cost of the plants at US$5.2 billion, Reuters reported.

At first blush, this appears to be good news for conservationists and citizens in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state, many of whom have campaigned for years to prevent large-scale dams from being built on the Salween River.

There has also been confirmation that EGAT and companies behind one of the most controversial projects, the Mong Ton dam, have been told by Myanmar officials to go back to the drawing board. The Myanmar government has reportedly said that the initial plan for a huge dam, which would have inundated the ‘Thousand Islands’ area, an unspoilt wilderness in Shan state, should be redesigned and split in two.

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