The Nation



Projects are on the table as India's PM vist

Myanmar President Thein Sein and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Myanmar President Thein Sein and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Hydropower and transportation projects would be put on the table when India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Myanmar between Sunday and Tuesday.

Singh arrived in Myanmar on Sunday. He would have an official meeting his Myanmar's counterpart President Thein Sein in the capital city of Nay Pyi Taw on Monday and would fly to main city of Yangon to met Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday.

The Indian premier would discuss with Thein Sein on the construction of Htamanthi and Shwezaryi hydropower projects, opening of border trade zone, upgrading of 76 bridges on Tamu-Kalaywa-Kambo road.

India would propose bus line between Imphal, the capital of Manipu State and Myanmar's second largest city of Mandalay. The Union Bank of India and the Bank of India would propose to have their branches in Myanmar, according to The Indian Express.

Myanmar's Ministry of Electricity (1) signed an agreement with India's the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited (NHPC) on September 19, 2008 for the construction of Htamanthi hydropower project in Sagaing Region on the Chindwin River, the second longest river in Myanmar after the Ayeyawady.

The two countries also signed another MoU for Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Facility, and this India-back transport project has been implementing since 2009.

In May, India extended a new concession facility of 500 million US dollar credit line to Myanmar for specific projects, and it also had earlier extended credit line of nearly 300 million dollars for railways, transport, power transmission lines, oil refinery and OFC link.

It is estimated that the Htamanthi hydropower project situated in the middle of Naga region could generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity. However, it will displace over 45,000 local residents from their lands, and about 196.75 hectares of forest will disappear.

In connection with this project, Vice-president U Ohn of the Forest Resource and Environment Development Association (FREDA) said, "I suggested the responsible persons of India for this hydropower project to conduct three surveys such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and the Environmental Management(EM). Since then, they did not make contact with me."

Chindwin River is now threatened by changes of waterway and lower water level due to the environmental changes, exploration of natural resources and weak conservation of watershed areas in the upstream of river. These environmental degradations have now negative impacts on social economic lives of residents who are relying on the river.

The US 120 million-Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project is expected to complete in 2013 and it will be constructed by the Essar Constructions (India) Limited.

With regard to this project, a local resident in Sittway township of Rakhine State said, "We do not oppose to this project. However, we are curtained off from the information about advantages and disadvantages of this project. We want to know the benefits for us from this project."

Some residents in this area are also worrying about the possible loss of their cultivation lands due to this project.

Moreover, there have been no reports of EIA and SIA on these two projects until now

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