Locals refused to meet officials on Thursday from a company set to build a hydropower dam on the Nam Ma River in Hsipaw, northern Shan State.
The Unienergy Co. Ltd. sent representatives to the Nam Ma area to meet residents, but locals blocked the entrance to their community with bamboo.
“We don’t want to meet them. We don’t want to discuss the dam construction with them. We have nothing to do with them,” Sai Bee, the headman of Nam Ma village, told SHAN.
Sai Bee said that the proposed dam—located at the junction of the Nam Paung and the Nam Ma rivers—would negatively impact his community, destroying farmland and homes in the subsequent flooding.
Officials from Yangon-based Unienergy have tried to meet Hsipaw locals repeatedly since 2017, but people in the area have consistently stood against the dam project and have not engaged with the company representatives.
Unienergy manager U Myint Zaw tried to hold a meeting in Hseng Liang village in Hsipaw Township in last February and was reportedly involved in the organizing of the attempted meeting on October 10.
Despite the longstanding opposition to the project, the Shan State government and Unienergy signed a memorandum of understanding to commence with construction of the dam on August 14. The planned dam would generate 25 megawatts of electricity.
The area in which the dam would be located is also a conflict zone—Nam Ma was the site of a Burmese military offensive against the Shan State Progress Party in 2016 in which 1,000 people were displaced.