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.
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.
In April, Thailand-based Toyo-Thai Corporation PCL signed a memorandum of agreement with the Myanmar’s Ministry of Electricity to construct a 1,280 megawatt coal-fired power plant near the coastal village of Inn Din in Mon State. One month later 5,000 people staged a protest near the seaside Inn Din project site in Ye Township. Public opposition has been mounting since the project was first announced last year.
It’s the most feared infrastructure project In the Greater Mekong Subregion. Not just by the 200,000 people directly impacted, and a coalition of local and international NGOs, but the governments of Vietnam and Cambodia, and the Mekong River Commission.
Nam Ngiep 1 dam is the second major Lao hydropower project conceived for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). EGAT’s first, Nam Thuen 2 has been riddled with social and environmental problems, and Nam Ngiep 1 is shaping up no differently.
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) just began importing electricity from the newly completed Hongsa coal-fired power plant, just 30km into Laos. Adjacent mines feed the thermal plant with lignite, the dirtiest type of coal.
With a population of just over 200,000, Myeik is home to mostly fishermen and rubber and coconut plantation workers. The area, however, is not on Myanmar’s national power grid, a key motivation for the project.
It’s unprecedented: the largest industrial estate and deep sea port complex conceived in Southeast Asia. It’s controversial: trampling pristine shorelines; felling valuable forests and orchards; paving highways through remote mountain passes and uprooting ethnic minorities all along the way.