Recent Dam and Water Diversion Plans
HAT GYI | TA SANG | WEI GYI (Upper Salween Dam) | DAGWIN (Lower Salween Dam) | Upper Thanlwin
Water Diversion from the Salween to the Chaophraya River

The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the Thai government, and the Energy Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) are pushing ahead quickly and secretively with plans for a series of five giant dams on the Salween/Thanlwin River and its tributaries. The potential dam sites and water diversion projects on the Salween can be summarized as follows:

The first dam to be built, will be built near to Myaingyingu at a place called Hat Gyi in Karen State, about 33 km downstream from the Salween-Moei River confluence. Here, there is a particularly powerful rapid that becomes a waterfall when the water flow is reduced in the dry season. It is also beside and part of the Kahilu Wildlife Sanctuary.

The construction of the Hat Gyi dam is expected to commence as soon as late 2007 and the commercial distribution of power is projected to begin around 2013-2014, which will provide electricity to Thailand. The Thai and Burmese government have agreed under the MOU to keep all data and joint studies on this project strictly confidential. The proposed plan is much larger than previous studies, increasing the flood area, which is inhabited mostly by ethnic Thai Karens and Shans and includes two official wildlife sanctuaries in Karen State.

A 1999 pre-feasibility study by the Japanese development consultant NEWJEC recommended “a low height, run-of-river dam having a capacity of 300 MW.” However, on November 14, 2005, the Thai energy minister cited a new feasibility study where “electricity production could be increased to 1,200 megawatts.” Quadrupled output from the dam would indicate a substantially higher dam, and therefore a much larger reservoir.

It is also important to mention that with a larger reservoir the Thai authorities will be able to more easily divert floodwaters from the Salween River into a dam on the Yuam River at Mae Lama Luang, which is at an advanced stage of planning. The water from the Mae Lama Luang dam will be diverted through a tunnel into the Bhumipol Dam in central Thailand.


The Tasang Dam is the largest of the series of proposed hydroelectric projects on the Nu/Salween River in south central Shan State, 40 km north of the Tasang river crossing, and about 130 kilometers from the Thai-Burmese border. The 7,110-megawatt, 228 meter high dam is slated to be the tallest dam in all of Southeast Asia. The reservoir will flood hundreds of square kilometers. The first studies of this project were done by a Japanese company, Nippon Koei in 1981, and in 1998, Thailand’s GMS Power Company and Myanmar Economic Cooperation agreed to study the project. Following these studies in 2002, the Thai company, MDX, signed an agreement with the SPDC to develop the project further. Currently, it is unclear whether MDX is financially sound enough to support the project. However, it has been reported that Thai engineers and Thai workers are still traveling to and from the Tasang dam site.

Already over 300,000 people have been forcibly relocated from the areas since dam studies commenced in 1996. If built, the Tasang Dam will drive thousands of people from their homes and will involve even more forced relocations by the Burmese military. Increased militarisation has already led to an increase of reports of torture, extrajudicial killing, and other human rights abuses in the Tasang area.


3. WEI GYI (Upper Salween Dam):
This site is located on the Thai/Burma border close to where the Salween River flows out of Karenni (Kayah) State in Burma. According to the Japanese Electric Power Development Corporation study the dam will have a projected capacity of 4,540 megawatts, and a flood height of 220 meters, flooding between 700-1,000 square kilometres of forest, river and farmland, mostly in Karenni State. The dam construction cost is estimated at US$3 billion. The site on the Thai side is part of the Salween Wildlife Sanctuary and the access road that is being constructed passes through the Salween National Forest.

Back to Top