From: Associated Press
Published December 12, 2005 12:00 AM

Myanmar, Thailand Sign Agreement To Build Controversial Hydropower Dam

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar has signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand to build a hydropower plant on Southeast Asia's longest free-flowing river, the Salween, a state-run newspaper said Saturday.


The Hutgyi Hydropower Dam is planned as the first of a series of dams to be built on the river, known as Thanlwin in Myanmar, and is expected to be completed within five to six years.


The daming of the Salween has drawn strong protests from environmental groups. They claim the dams will degrade one of the region's most biodiverse areas, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Opponents of Myanmar's ruling junta say the construction of the dams is likely to involve forced labor and harm ethnic minority groups which the central government has long suppressed.


The Myanma Ahlin newspaper said the agreement was signed Friday by officials of Myanmar's Ministry of Electric Power and the Electric Generating Authority of Thailand, or EGAT.


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The power plant will be equipped with a 600-megawatt turbine and will annually produce 3,820 million kilowatt hours, the paper said.


Source: Associated Press


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