Salween Hydrodam Back on Development Menu?

Key Issues: 

The Irrawaddy 31 March 2012

By WILLIAM BOOT


Chinese surveyors are reported to be working again at the site of what would be the big hydroelectric dam and reservoir in Burma, on the River Salween near the border with Thailand.

Ground survey work for the 7,300 megawatts capacity dam, which would mostly supply Thailand with electricity, was halted several years ago because of fighting between Burmese and ethnic Shan militias.

Chinese workers were seen surveying land around Tasang, a Shan State Army-South (SSA-South) officer told the Bangkok Post.

“Major Lao Hseng said Myanmar troops had been building up their presence near a planned dam site at Ta Sang, on the western side of the Salween River in Pan and Chiang Tong towns, where dam locations are being surveyed,” the Thailand-based newspaper reported.

SSA-South forces signed a truce earlier this year with the Burmese military.

Sinohydro Corporation, the same Chinese company which is involved in the suspended Myitsone hydropower dam on the Irrawaddy River in Kachin State, is the main contractor for the Tasang project.

“If built it will be the highest dam in Southeast Asia, taller than China’s massive Three Gorges Dam,” says the NGO Burma Rivers Network which opposes the damming of the Salween.

Under existing deals, much of the electricity generated from a hydropower scheme at Tasang would be bought by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.