Restart the hydro plant, Myanmar govt urged

Updated: 2012-03-11 08:17

By Zhou Yan (China Daily)

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Some senior Chinese political consultants on Saturday called for the Myanmar government to resume the suspended Myitsone hydropower plant, stressing that it' is a legitimate project that is in the interest of both countries, as well as local residents.

China is participating in the Myitsone dam project at Myanmar's invitation after the two countries' top leaders witnessed the signing of the agreement, Zhang Guobao, former head of the National Energy Administration, said at a news briefing, as part of the plenary sessions now going on.

Zhang, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, said the project would help ease Myanmar's critical power shortage and propel its economic growth.

The country, with a population of more than 40 million, has the capacity to generate only 3 million kilowatts, according to Zhang.

The $3.6 billion dam project, which has an installed capacity of 6,000 megawatts, can generate about 29,400 million kilowatt hours a year after completion, which is expected in 2019.

More importantly, Zhang said it is a good project that will bring local residents a better life.

He urged further consultation over the resumption of the project, even though China respects Myanmar's previous decision to suspend the project.

Last September the government halted construction of the hydro-electric power station, a joint venture of the China Power Investment Group, Myanmar's Ministry of Electric Power-1 and a local private company, partly due to local protests over the feared environmental impact of the dam.

Myanmar did not provide a timetable to resume the project.

China Power Investment Corp went through all the legitimate procedures and feasibility surveys to ensure the safety of the project before starting it in 2009, said Lu Qizhou, the company's president.

"Myanmar is our friendly neighbor we hope to restart the project as quickly as possible," said Lu, who is also a CPPCC National Committee member.

Addressing environmental concerns raised by Chinese hydro-electric power projects, Lu said that China will further develop hydropower, as it is the most economical among all renewable energies.

But the company will do everything possible to avoid negative impact of such projects on the environment, ensure the safety of local residents, and limit the effects on their daily life.

Hydropower dams in China, like elsewhere in the world, have raised fears from academic critics and the public on the possible impact on ecology.

Lu said planned hydropower projects will continue and the designs of the projects will address all these concerns.

At the news conference, Wang Binghua, chairman of China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, also showed his strong support for the controversial construction of inland nuclear power stations, saying that inland regions, Central China in particular, lack primary energy resources and have to develop nuclear power plants to meet the energy demand.

These inland nuclear power stations strictly adhere to all national and international safety standards, Lu said.