Hatgyi Dam, Myanmar

Description

The Hatgyi Dam project is one of five hydropower dams planned by the Joint Committee on Hydropower Development between the Governments of Thailand and Myanmar on the Salween River. Hatgyi is proposed to be the first dam constructed, located near Myaingyingu in Karen State, Myanmar. The project would be 50 km downstream of the Thai border, and the reservoir would stretch to the Thai border. Initial project plans in 1999 recommended the construction of a low height, 300 MW run-of-river dam. However, a new feasibility study published in November 2005 showed the project's capacity could be increased to 1,200 MW with 33m high dam. The project will affect mostly the Thai Karen ethnic group and the Shan ethnic group. In 2009, tension over the impending dam escalated into an attack on the Karen National Union (KNU) by the Myanmar Army and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) 17 km from the proposed dam site resulting in approximately 3,500 villagers being forced to flee across the Thai border [13]. This was the largest influx of refugees from Karen State into Thailand that decade . Increased militarization around the dam site has led to human rights abuses, which includes forced labour, illegal taxation and rape (13). Most villages along the Salween River rely on local border trade, fishing or agriculture for their livelihoods, which will be greatly impacted by the dam. The proposed dam site includes plans to inundate two official wildlife sanctuaries in the Karen State as well. The project threatens the river's freshwater ecosystem and increases the risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes as the site is within a major fault zone. Controversies over the dam include incomplete environmental impact assessments that claim many riparian communities will not be affected; however, the study is disputed as the assessment in Myanmar is incomplete and it did not consider the potential impacts on Thailand at all. Also, in December 2005, EGAT Plc signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Department of Hydroelectric Power, Myanmar for the Hatgyi Dam stating that all project information will be strictly confidential and not given out without proper written consent of all involved groups.

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Basic Data
NameHatgyi Dam, Myanmar
CountryMyanmar
ProvinceKaren State, on the Salween River (Thailand-Myanmar border)
SiteNyaingyingu, Hat Gyi
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Water
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPlant installed potential: 1,200 MW
Project Area (in hectares)unknown
Level of Investment (in USD)1,000,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population1,000 - 30,000
Start Date1991
Company Names or State EnterprisesElectricity Generating Authority of Thailand International Co. Ltd (EGAT) from Thailand
Sinohydro Corporation Limited (Sinohydro) from China
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Energy, Thailand, Ministry of Electric Power No. 2, Myanmar
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersThailands Human Rights Commission, Salween Watch, http://www.salweenwatch.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=1, Burma Rivers Network (BRN), http://www.salweenwatch.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=10&Itemid=72, Karen Rivers Watch, http://karenriverwatch.blogspot.com/, Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (Kesan), http://www.kesan.asia/, International Rivers http://www.internationalrivers.org/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
International scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Sabotage
Threats to use arms
0
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths, Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Migration/displacement
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesEGAT should stop plans to construct Hatgyi Dam

The Thai government should survey all stateless people in Thailand as the Thai Constitution does not recognize stateless individuals who are not in possession of a Stateless Card. To rectify this, the Thai Government should sign onto international laws on stateless people.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.There have been limited opportunities for substantive public participation throughout the project decision making process to date. Whilst the company has undertaken a sporadic and criticized CSR campaign [4], there are no outlined compensation plans for affected people.

The Hatgyi Dam was planned without local consultation or consideration and because of this, the potentially affected people are concerned they will not receive compensation or be able to exhibit their right to freedom of expression about the project. They are also faced with a lack of access to information, threats, and a lack of information provided in local languages.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

The Right to Campaign Under the Thai Constitution“ Section 63 and Section 66;

Compensation Rights Under the Thai Constitution“ Section 67;

Cabinet Solution to Recover the Livelihood of Ethnic Karen

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights †“ Article 24;

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination“ Article 5;

Convention on the Rights of the Child“ Article 7;

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

References

Hengsuwan, Paiboon (2013). Explosive border: Dwelling, fear and violence on the Thai-Burmese border along the Salween River. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, Vol. 54, No. 1, pp109-122. Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Magee, Darrin & Shawn Kelley. 2009. Damming the Salween River. Contested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region. Hydropower, Livelihoods and Governance, ed. By F. Molle, T. Foran & M Kakonen. 115-40. London, Sterling, VA: Earthscan.

McDonald, Kristen., Bosshard, Peter., & Brewer, Nicole (2009). Exporting dams: China's hydropower industry goes global. Journal of Environmental Management. S294-S302.

Nang, Shining (2011). Evaluating the Implementation of EGAT International's Corporate Social Responsibility Policy for the Hat Hyi Dam Project on the Salween River, Myanmar. MA Thesis, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University.

Permpongsacharoen, Witoon (2013). Myanmar Power Sector Development in the Regional Context. Mekong Energy and Ecology Network (MEE Net).

TERRA (2006). Chronology of Salween dam plans (Thailand and Burma). Compiled by TERRA. Bangkok, Thailand.

Links

International Rivers (2012). Dam Cascades Threaten Biological and Cultural Diversity. The Salween River Basin Fact Sheet. 24 May 2012.
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Naing, Saw Yan. (2013). On Salween River, Growing Signs that Work on Hat Gyi Dam Resumes. The Irrawaddy. 22 May 2013.
[click to view]

Naing, Saw Yan (2013). Keeping their heads above water. Bangkok Post. Newspaper section: Spectrum. 11 August 2013.
[click to view]

Nyar, Saw Khar Su. (2013). KNU protests as EGAT marks Salween River Hat Gyi dam site. Karen News. 20 May 2013.
[click to view]

Salween Watch (n.d.). Recent Dam and Water Diversion Plans. Salween Watch Dam Sites.
[click to view]

Salween Watch (2013). Current Status of Dam Projects on Burma†™s Salween River. Salween Watch 13 March 2013
[click to view]

International Rivers. (n.d.). Salween Dams. International Rivers, Campaigns.
[click to view]

Media Links

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International Rivers Campaign

Living Rivers Siam

Meta Information
ContributorCarl Middleton, Sarah Allen, Matilde Sgotta
Last update03/05/2014
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