By The Mekong Eye
Shan, Myanmar, September 17, 2015
Baht Beyond Borders #6 – Thai investment booming next door
Mong Ton Dam, Myanmar
A deep gorge near Mong Ton Township on the Salween River in Myanmar has long been sought after by engineers from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand. It can accommodate Southeast Asia’s tallest dam and deliver the equivalent of 25 per cent of Thailand’s current electricity consumption. For two decades, Myanmar’s dictatorship has attempted to indulge EGAT, not only to pocket enormous hydropower revenues, but the project’s ability to disrupt a stronghold of ethnic minorities seeking autonomy. Despite growing repression, insurgencies, displacement and military occupations of the project site, local people remain steadfast in defending their interests in determining who and how Salween River resources should be used and allocated.
Presently, EGAT has partnered with China Three Gorges Corporation to move the project along. They’ve retained Australia’s Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation to undertake an EIS. However, in a statement released in Bangkok in June, 16 community based organizations argued that from their participation so far, the EIS process appears a rubber-stamp rather than an objective assessment of the project’s actual impacts. They’ve observed evidence of bribery and deception and an unwillingness to allow dissenting voices to take part in meetings. They called for the project to be stopped until an equitable, participatory evaluation and decision making process is agreed upon.