2. SHAN: Shan State Army - "Negotiations Have Not Begun
3. KHRG: Interview with "Sai Harn"
4. LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE:
5. SHRF: Reports of Massacres
6. AP: UN Labor Agency Sends
7. PROBE INTERNATIONAL: Peddling Yesterday's Technology
8. THE NATION: Chuan Shows Tact on Diplomacy
9. MTBR: Intense Focus on Developing Sustainable Primary Industry
Below, you will find updated information
about the planned Ta Sang Dam on the
The studies at the dam site continue. The
KHRG interview gives an eyewitness account of the activities at the dam site.
In addition, on March 31, villagers sighted two Japanese men at the Thai-Burma
border heading in to the dam-site. The article from Le Monde
Diplomatique speculates on the connection between the
Ta Sang dam plans and the Japanese Miyazawa Plan, a regional assistance fund
from which the SPDC is theoretically excluded, making the possibilities of the
assistance passing through a third-party more likely.
Other news from inside
This mailing ends with an excerpt from Probe International's speech delivered to the World Commission on Dams in February, 2000. The speech offers crisp insight into the problems of large dams and the growing trend to make the construction of them obsolete.
Please feel free to contact us here at
Salween Watch for any further information about the Ta Sang Dam or other issues
related to the
Shan Herald Agency for News
informed source from
The source, who requested withholding of her identity, said as it was difficult for Japan to hand out funds straight to Rangoon, due to the situation in Burma as well as the strong opposition of the west with regards to aiding the junta, it was agreed that the money would be deposited at the Bank of Shanghai that has a branch in Rangoon.
Chinese condition was that the bulk of the equipment needed for the
construction be purchased from
S.H.A.N. is a non-profit, independent Shan media group. It is not affiliated to any political or armed organization.
2. SHAN STATE ARMY - "NEGOTIATIONS HAVE NOT BEGUN"
Shan Herald Agency for News
A highly placed source from the Shan State Army South of Yawdserk has denied there were any negotiations with the junta, as reported earlier by several agencies.
Orntern, regarded as Yawdserk's spokesman, told S.H.A.N. yesterday what had
transpired so far was only some exchanges of messages between the Shan State
Army South's 727th Brigade and the area commander in
According to the Shan State Army's statement No. 2/2000 on 6 March, Rangoon, after receiving the SSA's Statement No. 1/2000 dated 25 January, stating its desire to resolve problems by peaceful means, had dispatched a delegation to the former with "4 truce terms": acknowledgement of the SSA's right to bear arms, the right "to trade in whatever they like", the right to be free of other armed groups in the areas where the SSA is active and to surrender their arms in future along with other ceasefire groups.
In response, the SSA stated its own conditions on 3 March, as follows:
That the SPDC troops remain in the urban areas; 2. That the
SSA retains the right to manage its own educational and financial programs; 3.
That there be no use of force to resolve problems; 4. That there be no levying of either porters or provisions in the SSA's area; 5. That the SSA has
the right to freely communicate with other groups for the peace and development
also set the deadline for
S.H.A.N. is a non-profit, independent Shan media group. It is not affiliated to any political or armed organization.
3. INTERVIEW WITH "SAI HARN"
Karen Human Rights Group
following transcript is an excerpt of an interview, conducted in March, 2000, that appears in the recent KHRG report, "Exiled
at Home: Continued Force Relocations and Displacement in
NAME: "Sai Harn"
AGE: 40; SEX: M
Shan Buddhist farmer/fisher
FAMILY: Married, 6 children
ADDRESS: Wo Long village, Kun Hing township
Q: When was the last time you were in your original village?
We were living in Nga Tang and then we left for
Q: Where did you go instead of being relocated?
A: We lived on an island in the Nam Pang River In Kun Hing township.
Q: How long did you live on the island?
A: More than 2 years. It will be 3 years in the coming 6th month of the Shan lunar calendar, or May 2000 on the Gregorian calendar.
Q: Do you have a family to support?
A: Yes, 6 children. Two of my older daughters are already married and I have two sons-in-law. We have two grandchildren. One of my nephews and his wife and child came along.
Q: Did you have to leave secretly with your family?
I told my relatives that I would go to
Q: Did you walk?
We walked to the
Q: How long did it take you?
A: 2 days and 1 night from Keng Kham to Ta Sala.
Q:Did you see any
machines by the
Yes, I saw drilling machines on both sides of the bank and some were sucking
water and drilling. 3 machines on each bank. All
together 6, but 3 on each side on 2 hills [aligned on 2 hills across the river
from each other]. One was on the top, one in the middle, and one below on both
banks. It was at Tang Ba Lai. It's upriver on the
Shan people were from around that area near the
Q: Did the soldiers fine you for passing through?
A: No. The Burmese said, "Where do you come from?" We told the truth, "We come from Keng Kham."
Q: Did you see Thai people there also?
A: Yes, I saw them operating machines. The Shan also said that there were Thais among the workers. They were Thai workers [civilians], not Thai soldiers.
Q: Did the workers have camps by the river?
A: They had set up tents on the river bank. The tents had plastic tarps.
Q: Did anyone know when the dam would start being built, or what the plan was for building?
I asked the Shan workers, "Brother, do you know what you are
building?" They said they didn't know what is going to be built there.
They didn't tell the workers that they were building a dam. The people who live
4. A PARADOXICAL
Le Monde Diplomatique
by Andre and Louis Boucaud
peaceful issue of the hostage crisis at the Burmese embassy in
On 14 December 1988, less than three months after the September crackdown, General Chaovalit Yongchaiyut, the commander in chief of the Thai army, travelled to Rangoon to explain what would later become the official line of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries - namely "constructive engagement", which included admission of Burma to Asean in July 1997.
the time Chaovalit negotiated lucrative trade
contracts with the Burmese military concerning forestry concessions and fishing
rights. In exchange he offered the State Peace Development Council (SPDC) junta
his support for neutralising part of the Burmese opposition that had taken
refuge on the Thai border. Numerous visits to
The agenda of the meeting between Chuan Leekpai and Than Shwe, which was held in Chiang Rai, a town in the north of Thailand rather than the capital Bangkok, included security issues, drug trafficking and crops to replace opium. Only the need for recognition, which the international community refuses, prompted the leaders of the Burmese junta to forget their traditional arrogance and accept such an inconspicuous visit. The summit meeting followed the February 1999 Interpol conference on heroine in Rangoon, the aim of which was to encourage Burma, currently one of the two largest opium producers in the world, to join the fight against drugs.
absence of the
The announcement of renewed cooperation was intended as a follow-up to the Interpol conference, for the SPDC is particularly keen to improve its image and by the same token relations with international agencies and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). However the main priority is an end to US sanctions and resumption of economic aid associated with the fight against drugs.
drugs were the main topic addressed during the Chiang Rai
meeting it is quite possible that they were only a pretext. The situation in
many years now, quite separately from the fact the northeast of the country has
always had inadequate water resources,
Bhumiphol in person has mentioned the problem and the
Crown, which initiated the Royal Irrigation Department, has made irrigation one
of its priority objectives. The politicians had no choice but to react. With 28
large dams, 800 small dams and 1,000 low-capacity reservoirs,
natural border with
well as satisfying its needs for irrigation and drinking water for its
consecutive years of catastrophic drought have given new impetus to the
studies. At the instigation of the ministry of science the Thai government has
recently allocated 186 million Baht (a little over $5m) to studies of the
feasibility of diverting water from the
1.Toward Ecological Recovery and
Regional Alliance (Terra), a Thai non-governmental organisation (NGO), has
attacked the project which will take water resources away from one group of
people for the benefit of others, as well as upsetting the natural hydraulic
balance with unforeseen consequences. Other more discreet projects have also
been the subject of detailed study for 10 years. They concern the construction
of a colossal dam on the
studies, test bores and feasibility studies were carried out. Depending on the
site, the size and design of the structure, and the output of the hydraulic
turbines, the cost of the dam will range from $3b to $3.4b. Total production is
estimated at 3,400 megawatts, a quarter of which would go to
part of the
largest problem, however, remains how to fund the scheme, a task that has been
made even more difficult by the financial crisis in
great many businesses in
Yadana gas pipeline, built by the French firm Total
the sacrosanct pretext of development and the fight against the economic crisis
the Thai government may well give SPDC leaders the go-ahead to continue
undisturbed their repression of local populations, most of whom belong to
ethnic minorities. United Nations resolutions condemning
yet this was why Jacques Chirac supported
cost of the various solutions ranges from 8b Baht ($216m), with a dam on the Moei river and one billion cubic metres of water diverted
each year, to 23b Baht ($621m) for a pumping station on the Salween, upstream
storage dams and channels to divert the water as far as Bhumiphol
reservoir. 2.See "Repression and drug
trafficking", Le Monde diplomatique,
English edition, November 1998. 3.With all the other
NGOs that it coordinates the Burma Border Consortium already manages aid to
115,000 Karen and Mon refugees who have reached the camps on the western border
Translated by Harry Forster
5. SHAN HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION (SHRF) REPORTS OF MASSACRES
SHRF MONTHLY REPORT -- FEBRUARY 2000
MASSACRE OF INNOCENT VILLAGERS IN KUN-HING
30.1.00, 19 relocated villagers who were allowed by the local SPDC military
authorities to return to their former
18.1.00, the commander of SPDC Kun-Hing-based IB246,
Col. Kyaw Aye called a meeting of village and tract
leaders and people who were forcibly relocated to the town in 1996-98. At the
meeting, Commander Kyaw Aye told the villagers that
he received an order from
Anyone who wanted to return to their former villages to clear their places and fix their ruined houses needed to get a pass from the military authorities and pay 50 Kyat each to the pass issuers, the commander said.
After he finished talking, the commander immediately dismissed the meeting before anyone could say or ask anything.
On 18.1.00, Loong Kyawng Su (m), aged 57, originally from Kaeng Kham village, discussed the matter with his relatives and decided to have a try. Altogether 19 of them went to ask for a pass from the military and this was
issued. On the morning of
19.1.00, they all prepared a ration of food and some other necessities and went
to the deserted
On 30.1.00, the villagers continued to clear a part of the village which had virtually turned into a jungle. At about hrs, a column of about 85-90 SPDC troops, with 40 forced civilian porters, from IB66 led by Capt. Zaw
Thein came through the jungle and, when they saw the villagers clearing the deserted village, surrounded and shot at them until all of them died.
The SPDC troops claimed that they had shot at a group of rebels who had come to set up a stronghold at Kaeng Kham deserted village.
The following is the list of the victims:
1.Loong Kyawng Su (m), aged 57 2.Loong Ka-Ling (m), aged 51 3.Loong Aw-Zae-Ya (m), aged 49
4.Loong Pan La (m), aged 47
5.Sai Ma-La (m), aged 45
6.Sai Kyaw La (m), aged 44
7.Sai Woon (m), aged 41
8.Sai Zaam Khur (m), aged 36
9.Sai Thun Awang (m), aged 33
10.Sai Mint (m), aged 30
11.Sai Min (m), aged 27
12.Sai Awng Sa (m), aged 24
13.Sai Nu (m), aged 20
14.Sai Man (m), aged 17
15.Sai Laao (m), aged 16
16.Sai Mu (m), aged 15
17.Naang Ing (f), aged 34
18.Naang Nyunt (f), aged 26
19.Naang Thun (f), aged 22
Note: Another witness stated that the troops surrounded, arrested and interrogated the villagers even after they showed the pass to them, and eventually shot all of them dead.
SHRF MONTHLY REPORT -- MARCH 2000
20 DISPLACED PERSONS IN HIDING MASSACRED IN KUN-HING
On 12.2.00, 20 villagers who were conducting an annual respect-paying rite at an altar of a territorial guardian spirit at Loi-maak-hin-taang were massacred by a column of SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) troops from IB246, in Kun Pu tract, Kun-Hing township, and 5 other villagers were also killed at a different place by the same troops on the same day.
These villagers were among those who had been forcibly displaced a few years ago by the SLORC/SPDC troops and had been in hiding since then, trying to survive by secretly growing small plots of rice and foraging for wild vegetables, games and fish.
As it had been a long established practice for the villagers in the area to pay respect to the guardian spirit once a year, the villagers prepared some traditional offerings and 20 men went to Loi-maak-hin-taang where there was an altar, set up long ago by their ancestors.
A patrol of about 80-90 SPDC troops from IB246 led by Capt. Hla Khin saw them and shot all of them dead. The troops then ate all the food they found among the offerings and continued to patrol the area, and shot dead another 5 women and children who were hiding in a makeshift hut in forest in the area.
The following is the list of the names of the 20 male victims and their original villages. All were in Kun Pu tract in Kun-Hing township:
1.Zaai Yunt, aged 21, Kun Pu village
2.Zaai Awng, aged 30, Kun Pu village
3.Zaai Mu, aged 41, Kun Pu village
4.Zaai Kaw, aged 36, Kun Pu village
5.Zaai Maw-Nae-Ya, aged 25, Kun Pu village
6.Zaai Thun Nae, aged 22, Kun Pu village
7.Zaai Lon, aged 34, Kun Pu village
8.Lung Saw, aged 47, Paang Khaa village
9.Zaai Khur Seng, aged 43, Paang Khaa village
10.Zaai Mu-Ling, aged 34, Paang Khaa village
11.Zaai Pan-Ti, aged 33, Loi Yaang village
12.Zaai Ka-Ling, aged 24, Loi Yaang village
13.Zaai Taan, aged 26, Loi Yaang village
14.Zaai Wi, aged 37, Loi Yaang village
15.Zaai Maad, aged 40, Loi Yaang village
16.Zaai Taw-Ya, aged 23, Loi Yaang village
17.Lung Lam, aged 51, Naa Ke village
18.Lung Paan La, aged 53, Naa Ke village
19.Lung Laan, aged 44, Naa Ke village
20.Zaai Zi-Na, aged 31, Naa Ke village
The following is the list of the 5 other villagers shot dead at different
1.Mae Thao Mya (f), aged 65
2.Naang Kya Yong (f), aged 37 (wife of Lung Saw of Paang Khaa village who
was killed earlier in the group of 20)
3.Naang Awng (f), aged 18
4.Zaai La Khin (m), aged 15
5.Zaai Thun (m), aged 11
6. UN LABOR AGENCY SENDS
Invoking an option that has never been used before, the 174-nation International Labor Organisation's governing body called on its annual conference to take "any such action as it may deem wise and expedient to secure compliance" with its rules.
really represents a deepening of
August 1998, a commission appointed by the ILO roundly condemned
"There has been no significant progress in eliminating forced labor and there has been no significant progress in complying with the special commission of inquiry," Doohan said.
He noted that "there are no provisions in the ILO for expelling a member state."
was unclear what consequences today's decision would have. Possible options
include recommendations to member countries, unions and organisations that they
review relations with
of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes
The government has said it is a responsible member of the ILO and accused western governments of making politically motivated allegations.
7. PEDDLING YESTERDAY'S TECHNOLOGY: AID FOR LARGE HYDRO DAMS MUST BE STOPPED
Excerpt of Speech to the
World Commission on Dams
by Grainne Ryder, Policy
Director, Probe International,
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for this
opportunity to speak today to the World Commission on Dams. The mandate
of the World Commission on Dams is to review the effectiveness of big dams and
to set new international guidelines for dam building so past mistakes can be
avoided. Given this mandate, I believe that the purpose of this commission is
to tell the world the truth about big dams. That is why I have traveled from
Let me start by saying what I think many of you already understand but dare not admit. The era of building big dams is over. There is no public policy reason for aid agencies to support large hydro development in this region. Big hydro dams are out-of-date and uncompetitive with the alternative methods of generating electricity. Anyone who says that large hydro dams can make economic sense with a little bit of fixing and new international guidelines is promoting a fiction. I think this commission is part of it. In the real world of electricity generation today, big dams are yesterday's technology.
of us who are following utility reform around the world know it, and I think
members of this commission, who sit in the boardrooms of the world's largest
utilities and dam-building companies, know it too. Whether we're talking about
Ask any private investor or lender if they are willing to risk their capital on big hydro dams. Their answer is "No." Not only is the private sector refusing to build new big hydro dams, existing dams are starting to be dismantled because citizens know that the economic value of a free-flowing river can be far greater than the power produced from a dam.
But if big hydro dams are uneconomic and obsolete, why are dams still under construction in some countries you ask? The only thing that keeps big dams under construction and on the drawing boards are state subsidies, state monopolies, and the socialization of private risk.
Big hydro dams continue to be built whenever dam proponents have access to the deep pockets of taxpayers. Without taxpayers to subsidize the capital costs of big dams, without taxpayers to internalize private sector risk, without monopolies to keep competitors out, without public oversight, without market discipline, and without the power to expropriate riverine communities' resources with impunity, few, if any, big hydro dams would be under construction today. Few would ever have been built in the past. Consumers and taxpayers are starting to understand this and they are demanding changes. Dam builders, as a result, are losing their special powers and protection. The dam industry is struggling for its own survival.
me explain my point with examples. I'll start with the
biggest, most expensive, and most socially destructive dam in the world
Then there's the additional $30 billion the government has to invest in upgrading the country's decrepit transmission system so it can handle the dam's output. Assuming consumers aren't charged for transmission costs (and discounting environmental and cultural wreckage), Three Gorges' power will cost more than nuclear power and at least two to three times more than power from gas-fired combined cycle plants. This will encourage China's large power consumers to leave the state-run grid for cheaper independent power producers, or install their own power plants, leaving Three Gorges' excessive costs for remaining consumers, mostly small farms and urban residents, who are already angry about the high cost of electricity.
Let me put this in the plainest language possible. In all likelihood, the Three Gorges project corporation will be saddled with a $30-billion dam and no customers for its power. Its investment costs will become "stranded" that is, no longer recoverable as ratepayers opt for cheaper suppliers.
costs are not just a Chinese problem. Utilities in
In Asia and elsewhere, the world in which big hydro dams thrived is unraveling - public monopolies are being dismantled, the private sector is rejecting big dams in favour of investments in less-risky power projects, governments are refusing to subsidize big dams, and citizens everywhere are demanding that dam builders internalize their costs or, in other words, take financial responsibility for their actions.
Big dams are surviving only where institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, and the governments they finance, continue to socialize private risk, and trample on the rights of hundreds of thousands of people in riverine communities.
Even with all environmental costs externalized, big dams proposed in this region have capital costs ranging from $1,200 to more than $2,500 per installed kilowatt, and that doesn't include transmission costs. A gas-fired combined cycle plant, on the other hand, costs anywhere from $600 to $900 per installed kilowatt, without flooding people off their land, and destroying their forests and fisheries.
Clearly, allowing dam builders to profit while others are forced to pay for the costs and risks of their scheme is an economically inefficient and disastrous strategy for development.
So how should society decide what kinds of electricity investment decisions are the best ones? Well, society shouldn't decide. That's the problem: planners, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, governments, and conservation organizations, have been making these hydro dam investment decisions and dressing them up as if they are in society's best interest. They never were. To use the words of a Chinese critic of that country's dam building record, "those who have suffered are not the beneficiaries while those who have benefited are not the sufferers." The best insurance against careless decision-making is to empower those who have to live with a decisions' consequences - whether environmental, financial, or cultural - with the rights and tools to make a decision in their interest and in the interest of their communities.
The time has come to get governments out of dam building, to stop the socialization of risk, and to force all energy investors to internalize the costs of their investment. This means that people's riparian rights (and customary rights to land, forests, and fisheries) must be respected. If they are, hopeful dam developers will be obliged to make fair deals for the resources they consume. They will be obliged to convince those whose land will be flooded, whose fisheries will be destroyed, whose communities will be displaced, to agree (or not) and compensate them accordingly.
Citizens need effective laws that recognize their ownership and uphold their rights as resource owners (individual and collective). Only then can citizens force developers to win the approval of all potential victims rather than the onus being on potential victims to defend themselves against environmental aggressors.
With strong property rights, rights holders would have the right to say "no" to a developer, to stop a project (i.e., by getting an injunction from the court) before or after a project has been approved. They would also have the right to sue developers for damages to their health, property, resources, and livelihoods.
But citizens and electricity consumers need more than this to protect themselves. The monopolies that have caused so much economic and environmental damage must be removed. Aid agencies and governments must stop protecting developers from the real costs and risks of their schemes; after all, if private investors won't accept these costs and risks why should taxpayers and the rural poor have to?
Governments must respect the rule of law so consumers and investors' rights are protected. Governments must end the practice of virtually unlimited utility borrowing against the public purse and concentrate on becoming effective regulators rather than investors. They must establish open and accountable regulatory frameworks to ensure that costs and risks are not arbitrarily inflicted on any parties and to ensure that those affected by investments are afforded due process. Most importantly, governments must limit their powers of expropriation, which have allowed dam builders to wreck people's lives, flood their land, and destroy resources with impunity.
We see no role for aid agencies in developing countries' electricity sectors. This commission has the mounting evidence of their dreadful record before it and yet aid institutions remain myopic and obtuse in their support of big dams. They should stop promoting hydro dams and remove themselves from the electricity business. When no developer receives special favours from either governments or aid agencies, better investment decisions will be assured.
The only way that future dams will get built is if they are kept on life support by aid institutions and compliant governments that can ignore economic reality and overrule the environmental rights of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens on this continent and others. Citizens, ratepayers, and taxpayers will not tolerate such contempt for their rights and the financial recklessness that has bankrupted utilities, created poverty in rural areas, and destroyed the resources upon which citizens depend. Aid agencies and governments should end their support for this obsolete industry.
Grainne Ryder, Policy Director, Probe
am a water resources engineer by training and hold a masters' degree in
environmental studies. I've designed and supervised construction of small
irrigation dams and studied traditional irrigation systems when I was a CUSO
International has been investigating the activities of Canadian dam builders
and aid institutions overseas for the past two decades, responding to requests
Grainne Ryder can be reached at GrainneRyder@nextcity.com
8. CHUAN SHOWS TACT ON DIPLOMACY
by Kavi Chongkittavorn
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai seldom discusses Thai diplomacy or our policies towards neighbouring countries. But when he does sit down and talk about Thai foreign policy, he reveals a deep understanding and sensitivity about the need to strengthen relations and promote the country's image overseas.
his administration he has allowed both Foreign Minister Surin
Pitsuwan and Deputy Foreign Minister MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra to take
total control of the direction of Thai diplomacy because he trusts them. Now,
with less than 10 months to the next election, the prime minister wants to
improve ties further with
also wants to ensure that
Last week the prime minister broke away from his mundane routine and sat down over an informal dinner with a group of editors and chatted about the whole gamut of Thai foreign policy and politics. It was his view of Thai diplomacy that impressed his hosts.
Chuan, who has not visited
though there have been confrontations and unpleasant skirmishes along the
Thai-Burmese border and in the
He predicts in the long run these bilateral ties will improve greatly because both sides are dealing with each other with respect, not basing it on personalities as in the past. Previously, Thai military leaders were the main contacts with the Burmese junta leaders. "We are democratic, and we have a process, not a personality," he said.
was easy in the past to resolve some of the conflicts emanating from
cross-border activities between
fact, the junta leaders in
of his dreams is to see the development of the
That will come when Thailand and Burma overcome their current bilateral problems, including demarcation of the 2,400-km border, he said, which he was confident they would, citing Thai-Vietnamese relations to back his optimism.
9. INTENSE FOCUS ON DEVELOPING SUSTAINABLE PRIMARY INDUSTRY
sufficiency for the people equals national economic progress." So said
agriculture is the foundation of
With 38pc of its GDP coming from primary industry then it is not surprising that the Government has focused much of its attention on achieving the goal of self sufficiency and creating products suitable for export and the earning of hard currency. More importantly some 64pc of the work-force is directly employed in farming. With a growth rate of 1.87pc annually, it means that by the year 2010 there will be a population of 60 million people.
The Prime Minister and Senior General, Than Shwe, has warned of impending catastrophe if timely measures are not under taken to grow enough food to feed the people. Importation of food-grains is not the answer, as it will squander precious foreign exchange and pre-empt funds earmarked for economic and social development.
The government has a comprehensive plan in place to implement development so that the population will be self-sustained and that crops will be sufficient to increase export earnings. This plan involves the application of five parallel and interlocking strategies.
are 18 million hectares of arable land in
The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation is resorting to five methods to promote the exploitation of water sources. These are: the construction of new dams and reservoirs, the storage of water flowing from watershed areas, renovation of existing dams and reservoirs, damming of creeks and rivers when they are in spate, pumping of water from rivers and creeks, and recovery of underground water.
Impressive results have already been attained through the use of these strategies. Since 1988, a total of 97 dams and reservoirs have been built at a cost of 1.4 billion kyats (US$4.3m) and commissioned into service. The projects that have been completed are already providing irrigation water to over 1.3 million acres of farmland.
The Government has initiated a nation-wide campaign to reclaim 9m hectares of wetlands and virgin, vacant and fallow lands. Already the project has achieved some success. In l996-97 more than 150,000 acres of additional land were brought under cultivation.
The Prime Minister assured local farmers that their interests would not be jeopardised by the introduction of large-scale farming by entrepreneurs and pointed out that they would in fact profit from exposure to modern scientific methods of cultivation and would benefit from increased employment opportunities with the establishment of large scale farms in their regions.
One of the approaches being adopted by the Government is the introduction of mechanised agriculture. This was first tried some years ago but received a set-back when heavy ploughing machines bogged down in the muddy paddy fields and had to be hauled out by teams of oxen. Not to be deterred light and versatile machines were tried and found to perform satisfactorily. Nationally produced machines for ploughing, harrowing, planting, reaping and threshing are now available.
The use of machinery in agriculture of course should raise productivity, cut processing time and bring about economies of scale so that efficiency becomes a key philosophy in order to compete globally. In 1998, 4m acres were put under summer paddy as well as during the rainy season. This helped to increase paddy production to 100 million baskets yearly.
government has been attempting to promote the growing of alternative crops.
Together with paddy it has designated sugarcane, cotton, pulses and beans as
the Four Pillars of Agriculture in its Four Pillars/Four Crops strategy.
Agro-related ventures are being accorded high priority. These include
horticulture, sericulture, aquaculture, bee-keeping, livestock breeding and
fresh-water and offshore fishing and prawn-breeding, all of which are being
promoted in tandem with development of the agriculture sector and are helping
to expand the export market. Already the fish and prawn sector is the third
largest foreign exchange earner in the economy. In 1998-99, 3254
It is not sufficient to merely boost agricultural production. Farmers need ways of sending their produce to markets in the rest of the country and abroad. To solve this challenge the government has embarked on a crash program to extend and upgrade existing transport infrastructure. Considerable success has already been achieved in this regard. The SPDC, during its 12 years of stewardship, has already laid close to a 1000 miles of new railway line as part of its strategy for infrastructure development.
building of roads and highways is also proceeding at pace. Despite
extraordinary difficulties 2057 miles of new roads have been completed, while
another 4098 miles are under construction. As a practical proposition, it is
impossible to dissociate the construction of railroads and highways from the
building of bridges, and the government has consequently launched an extensive
program of bridge construction projects. These extensive bridge building
projects are being implemented in all States and Divisions of the
U Sein Tu has a Master in Arts from