Junta Launches Covert Dam
Offensive in Karenni State
Karenni Development Research Group
Engineers are secretly surveying for dams planned by China hydropower
giant Datang on the Salween River and its tributaries in Karenni State
under the armed guard of Burma’s junta, according to local researchers.
The Karenni Development Research Group (KDRG) has launched a campaign
publication exposing how three planned dams proceeding in secret will
block waterways across the state, tightening the junta’s control and
causing further widespread disruption to the war-torn population.
These three dams include a giant 600 megawatt dam on the Salween at
Ywathit, nearly 60 kilometers from the Thai town of Mae Hong Son, that
will flood upstream to Shan State across large areas forcibly
depopulated during ongoing offensives by the junta’s troops. A second
dam—a 30 megawatt dam on the Pawn River—in the heart of the state will
particularly impact the Yintale people, who now number just 1,000
people. Lastly, a 110 megawatt dam on the Thabet River to the north of
the Karenni capital of Loikaw is also planned.
“We’re not allowed anywhere near the dam site,” said one local villager
from Ywathit. “Some Chinese with strange equipment travel there with
soldiers, but we don’t know what’s going on.”
It is unknown how the electricity from the dams will be used, but local
people fear they won’t receive any power. The Karenni have bitter
experiences from Burma’s first major hydropower project at Lawpita,
which had devastating impacts but gave local people no benefit.
The Ywathit is one of seven dams planned on the Salween River in Burma
by Chinese and Thai companies. All of the dams are located in conflict
zones and have already exacerbated local resentment and instability.
“How can investors think this is business as usual while armies are
battling around them and people are fleeing for their lives?” said Thaw
Reh of the KDRG. “They should wake up to the risks of these dams and
immediately stop their operations.”
Datang Corp. is a member of the U.N. Global Compact whose members commit
to conduct business according to universally accepted principles of
human rights, environmental protection and labor standards.