KNU criticized for signing MoU on hydropower dam

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The Karen National Union (KNU) has been criticised after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Myanmar government on a hydropower project known as the Baw Ka Hta dam, according to The Irrawaddy.

Saw Tar Doh Moo, the head of Thoo Lay Company Limited, a business body owned by the KNU, signed the MoU with Aye Hsan of the Electrical Power Management Department on Feb 18 in Naypyidaw. When completed, the dam in Pegu Division’s Kyaukkyi Township would be capable of producing 160 megawatts of electricity. This electricity would reportedly be distributed throughout Pegu Division and Karen State.

Both local civilians and members of the KNU leadership spoke out on social media against the signing of the MoU, pointing out that proper assessments and consultations had not been conducted for the dam, named for its location on the Ba Ka Hta River.

Saw Thaw Thee Bwe, the first general secretary of the KNU, said senior leaders at the KNU’s central committee were unaware of the decision.

He said the Thoo Lay Company should formally explore the impact of the project before proceeding with an MoU. He explained that protocol required that the results of the research be presented to the KNU central committee before a decision could be made.