Min­is­ter eyes com­mis­sion to man­age Thanl­win River

The Myanmar Times - - News - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com

A UNION min­is­ter is try­ing to launch a new tri­par­tite com­mis­sion for man­age­ment of the Sal­ween/Thanl­win River with a stated aim of avoid­ing dis­putes con­cern­ing water re­sources.

Min­is­ter for Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion U Thant Sin Maung said the Thanl­win River Com­mis­sion should in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the three coun­tries through which the river runs: China, Myan­mar and Thai­land.

“China, Myan­mar and Thai­land will jointly form the Thanl­win River Com­mis­sion. I will ne­go­ti­ate with them via the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs. It is also nec­es­sary to ne­go­ti­ate Thai­land’s par­tic­i­pa­tion,” the min­is­ter told par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

The an­nounce­ment was made af­ter up­per house MP U Soe Thein (Independent; Kayah 9) asked whether the govern­ment had a plan to sign a trans­bound­ary agree­ment over the use of the river’s water re­sources.

U Thant Sin Maung said there is no plan yet to sign a trans­bound­ary water man­age­ment agree­ment, but that he would try to ne­go­ti­ate one and con­tact China via diplo­matic chan­nels.

Myan­mar is set to host a meet­ing of the Joint Com­mit­tee on Co­or­di­na­tion of Com­mer­cial Nav­i­ga­tion on the Lan­cang-Mekong River (JCCCN) in Jan­uary 2017, where dis­cus­sions about form­ing the Thanl­win River Com­mis­sion will get fur­ther un­der way.

“When that meet­ing is held in Man­dalay, we will dis­cuss [the com­mis­sion] with both China and Thai­land,” said U Thant Sin Maung.

Court­ing China, he said, would be the first or­der of busi­ness.

The to­tal area cov­ered by the Thanl­win River val­ley is 169,600 square kilo­me­tres in China, 134,400 sq km in Myan­mar and 16000 sq km in Thai­land. The river it­self is 2815 kilo­me­tres in length and emp­ties into the Gulf of Mot­tama off Myan­mar’s coast.

At present, there are two ex­ist­ing dams along the Thanl­win River in China. A fur­ther 13 dams are slated to go ahead, the min­is­ter added. Con­struc­tion of dams along the river has been a flash­point among lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists in Myan­mar.

– Trans­la­tion by Zaw Nyunt

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