Mekong Utility Watch

Thai energy company moves ahead on Burma dam projects

Sai Silp, The Irrawaddy

February 22, 200

Thailand’s giant electricity investor is negotiating with various business alliances to fund and construct multiple hydro-electric dam projects in Burma. Meanwhile, environmentalists are preparing to stage protests against such investments in Bangkok and more than 10 cities worldwide next week.

On Tuesday, Narong Sitasuwan, chairman of Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Public Co Ltd, said negotiations o­n shareholding agreements between companies are o­ngoing.

“Be side that, RATCH is also ready to invest in the 1,200 megawatt Hutgyi dam project with Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, along with a Chinese business counterpart, if EGAT supports RATCH’s cooperation,” Narong said, according to a report in Manager, a Thai language newspaper.

RATCH is Thailand’s leading investment company in the power generation business. The cabinet approveded a fund mobilization plan for RATCH through an initial public offering of common shares of the company in 2000.

Currently, the company is a listed, registered company o­n the Stock Exchange of Thailand. The company’s major shareholder is EGAT, which holds 45 percent of the company. The company has many o­ngoing projects in Thailand and overseas.

Sasithorn Chantarklum, the public relation manager of RATCH, said the company is conducting feasibility studies o­n co-investing opportunities in hydro-electricity projects in Burma. A report will be released in the last quarter of this year.

Thai interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont told his Burmese counterpart last November that the interim government will respect agreements between the two countries which were approved by the government of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Meanwhile, environmental and rights activists are preparing to stage protests o­n February 28 against the controversial Hutgyi Dam project o­n the Salween River.

Opposition groups claim the investment of about US $1 billion for the construction of the dam will help to support human rights violations against ethnic groups in Burma.

The groups, including the Northern NGO Coordinating Organization, the Salween Watch group and representatives of indigenous communities along the Salween River near Mae Hong Son Province, which borders the Karen and Karenni States of Burma, plan to submit a petition to Thailand’s human rights commissioners and the minister of energy in Bangkok.

On the same day, activists from more than 10 cities worldwide will stage protests against the construction of the dams at Thai embassies and consulates in cities worldwide, including in Tokyo, Washington DC, San Francisco, Sydney, Delhi, Berlin and Paris.7


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