Pak Mun Dam Controversy Fuelled

14 June 2000

The Thai authorities and the World Bank, the main funders for the Pak Mun dam project, hailed the dam as a big success, but the World Commission on Dams (WCD) recently released a critical evaluation. The Commission, a multi-stakeholder review body, found that:

  • The 136 Megawatt power output target has not been realised. The actual output was about 40 MW for April and May, during which both demand and capacity for power are at their highest.
  • The dam’s Economic Rate of Return (EIRR), is about 4 to 5 per cent, well below the original estimate of 12 per cent.
  • The dam has caused the loss of 60 to 80 per cent of the fish in the reservoir and the river upstream of the dam. Of 265 species found in the Moon river before 1994, the WCD counted only 96 species upstream of the dam.
  • The original plan claimed that only 241 households in 11 villages would be affected. Altogether, however, 1,700 families have lost their house, land, or both.
  • The Pak Mun dam, completed in 1991, was supposed to provide irrigation for 25,900 hectares, but the WCD found that so far, these claims have not been fulfilled.
  • The dam has led to the loss of 40 edible plants, 10 bamboo species, and 45 species of mushroom from the area.

Hundreds of villagers have been protesting at the dam site for many weeks demanding the opening of the spillways to let fish migrate.

The Bangkok Post recently described the Mun villagers as “Thailand’s longest-running and most organised grass roots movement”.

Southeast Asia Rivers Network (SEARIN)