By The Mekong Eye
Kayin, Myanmar, September 17, 2015
Baht Beyond Borders #5 – Thai investment booming next door
Hat Gyi Dam, Myanmar
About 130 km from the Salween River’s mouth is a site longtime identified as the final location suitable for hydropower development on what remains one of Asia’s longest un-dammed rivers. Known as Hat Gyi, the dam would be 33m high, generate 1,360 MW of electricity and costs an estimated US $2.6 billion. The project is being jointly developed by Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand International and China’s Sinohydro Corporation. The reservoir would back-up nearly 50km to the Thai border, affect Karen and Shan ethnic minorities and inundate a portion of the Kahilu and Salween wildlife sanctuaries.
Though efforts to launch the project have been underway since the late 1990s, skirmishes in and around the project site, combined with calls for more transparent and open decision making have impeded construction. Studies so far completed have been found deficient and delays are causing concerns by investors, prompting increased military build-up near the project site again fueling unrest.
Potentially affected communities recently stress that absent information from outside civil society organizations they would have little knowledge of what’s actually going on, especially threats the project poses to their homes and livelihoods. They also question why they must suffer the most, since only 10 per cent of the planned power output will be available for domestic consumption.