Myanmar-Thailand sign US$6bn hydropower plant deal

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The Nation 4 April 2006

Myanmar has signed an agreement with a Thai company to build a hydropower plant on Southeast Asias longest free-flowing river, the Salween, state-run media reported Tuesday.

The Ta Sang hydropower plant is one of several dam projects planned for construction on the river, known as Thanlwin in Myanmar. It is expected to be completed within 15 years, the New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.

The plan to dam the Salween has drawn strong protests from environmental groups who claim they will degrade one of the regions most bio-diverse areas, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The government signed a US$6 billion agreement with Thailands MDX Group to build the 7,110-megawatt plant located about 480 kilometers northeast of the capital Yangon, the newspaper reported.

After completion, most of the electricity generated from the hydropower plant will be sold to Thailand, while Myanmar will be supplied with an unspecified amount of free power, it said.

Myanmar faces constant power shortages, with many parts of the country suffering frequent outages because electricity supply has been unable to keep up with rising demand.