French utility says Myanmar dam project by international consortium halted over coup

Nearly 250 people have been confirmed dead in protests since the Feb 1 military coup, according to tolls compiled by non-governmental organisations.
Nearly 250 people have been confirmed dead in protests since the Feb 1 military coup, according to tolls compiled by non-governmental organisations.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS (AFP) - An international consortium has suspended a US$1.5 billion (S$2.02 billion) hydropower dam project in Myanmar in response to last month's military coup, consortium member Electricite de France (EDF), a French utility, said on Sunday (March 21).

Nearly 250 people have been confirmed dead in protests since the Feb 1 military coup, according to tolls compiled by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and more than 2,300 others have been arrested.

International condemnation from Washington, Brussels and the United Nations has so far failed to halt the bloodshed.

"The project is suspended," an EDF spokesman told AFP on Sunday of the dam project.

The Shweli-3 671-megawatt project, still at an early planning stage, is run by a consortium of EDF - which is majority-owned by the French state - the Japanese Marubeni conglomerate and local company Ayeyar Hinthar.

NGOs welcomed the decision, with Justice for Myanmar calling Shan state, where Shweli-3 is located, a region with "ongoing conflict and systemic grave human rights violations".

In a letter to Justice for Myanmar and published on the NGO's website, EDF said "the respect of fundamental human rights" was a condition for all of its projects.

Several NGOs have also been pushing French energy giant Total to pull out of Myanmar, with Greenpeace accusing the company of being one of the military regime's main financial contributors.

Shortly after the coup, Total said it was "assessing the situation" concerning its activities in the country.