Burmese Activist Issues Irrawaddy Appeal

Posted August 11th, 2011 at 7:15 am (UTC-5)
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Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says a joint Burma-China hydro-electric project is impeding water flow on Burma's largest river, the Irrawaddy, threatening rice production in a country that relies on the grain as a staple food and as a major export.

In an appeal issued Thursday, the Nobel laureate pins large-scale environmental problems on the Irrawaddy, or Great River, to “the lack of sound planning, failure to enforce necessary conservation laws and poor ecological awareness” in her impoverished homeland.

The appeal notes that the latest dam construction, a part of the Myit Sone hydro-electric project, raises the specter of “horrendous devastation” because the dams will create vast reservoirs near seismic fault lines.

It also points to illegal logging along the waterway, and says dam construction has slowed river flow to a point that salt water has intruded into the river delta, threatening a population that relies on fresh water to grow rice.

Aung San Suu Kyi also points to what she calls “the tradition mutual regard and friendship” between Burma and China, and says she believes both governments “would wish to avoid consequences which might endanger lives and homes.”