Mekong Utility Watch

The invisible costs of the Salween dam project

Pianporn Deetes, The Nation (Thailand)

February 28, 2007

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), has been touting at least five dam projects on the Salween River inside Burma and along the Thailand-Burma border as potentially enormous sources of “cheap” energy.

Still, there are unseen costs behind the electricity that have not been fully taken into account by those promoting the dam projects. Environmentally, the cost of the dams is far too great.

The Salween is the last longest free-flowing international river in Southeast Asia. Pristine forests along the border are home to rare and endangered animals and plants species. The denudation of forests following logging once the dams are in place, infrastructure development and inundation from reservoirs would destroy enormous tracts of invaluable natural resources.

More importantly, an extensive impact on human beings would be inevitable. No one knows exactly how many people will be affected, however Salween Watch says the conservative estimate is that at least 83,000 people will be uprooted from their homeland in the Shan, Karenni, and Karen states in Burma, and Mae Hong Son province in Thailand.

… If all of the social and environmental costs of the Salween dams were fully considered, we would never think of making this absurd investment. We have many other alternatives to cope with rising energy demands. Demand-side management, renewable energy sources and a decentralised system, are just a few of many options that should be pursued. … Read the full story. [PDFver here]

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