India-Burma Transport Project to Devastate Local Livelihoods and Cultures, Arakan Rivers Network says

Arakan Rivers Network (ARN) Releases Preliminary Report on Impact of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project

Press Release

November 10, 2009

Local civilians in Western Burma (Myanmar) face severe negative consequences from the planned construction of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project; these include heavy damage to the environment and therefore livelihoods, as well as widespread human rights abuses.  A preliminary report from the Arakan Rivers Network (ARN) presents some of these local voices and highlights their concerns; it provides a comprehensive update on the status of the project and an expert analysis of its expected impacts. The report will be released on November 10, 2009.

The Kaladan Project aims to connect the landlocked area of Northeast India with the sea via the Kaladan River in Western Burma’s Arakan and Chin states, opening up trade routes to Southeast Asia.  However, this progressive leap for India’s Look East Policywill also have a broad range of devastating effects on the people of Arakan and Chin States, most of whom already live in extreme poverty and have not had any input in the planning and construction of this project.  The communities inhabiting areas that will be affected by the Kaladan Project will see no benefit to their local economies or their level of development; in fact, the project will make it harder for locals to pursue their livelihoods, secure their basic necessities, and provide for their families.

ARN Director Aung Marm Oo, summarized the link between rivers and local livelihoods in Arakan, and the consequences of the Kaladan Project: The Kaladan is the most important of Arakan State’s four main rivers, with more than one third of the state’s population residing close to its banks. Over 90% of these people totally depend on the river for fishing, farming and travel. If this project goes ahead under the rule of Burma’s oppressive military regime, people from not only Arakan, but also Chin State, will suffer enormously. At the same time, the regime will send in more troops, confiscating hundreds of acres of farmland from local farmers for military use. The military presence and the execution of the Kaladan development will also lead to numerous human rights abuses, environmental degradation and the decimation of ecosystems, biodiversity and the migratory paths of important species.”

ARN has been following the developments of the Kaladan Project since the first agreement on the project was signed in April 2008.  This report is the first of its kind, and compiles information from a number of primary and secondary sources. Enlisting the support of experts in many fields, from river development to Burma’s foreign relations, this Preliminary Report gives a comprehensive overview of the project’s local implications and its wider significance amid the current Asian political climate.

The ARN aims to protect regional ecosystems from deterioration and prevent the destruction of habitats that are home to endangered species. We endeavour to bring an end to the persistent abuse inflicted on the people of Arakan and Chin States as a result of development projects that favour Burma’s oppressive military regime.

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For further information please contact:

Aung Marm Oo, Director (ARN): + (0) 81- 6736326

JJ Kim, Volunteer: + (0) 85- 4784971

source : http://www.arakanrivers.net/

Also read the related article at http://www.dvb.no/english/news.php?id=3038

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