Villagers near the area of the planned Tenasserim hydropower dam to be built by the Italian-Thai Development Company have renewed fears that they will be moved from the area, as survey work continues.
The 600-megawatt dam in southern Burma would supply energy to the Dawei Eonomic Zone.
Pdoh Saw Eh Htoo, the chairman of the Karen National Union (KNU) in Ler Mu Lah Township, told the Karen News Group this week that Ital-Thai is finishing one stage of the soil survey and “will continue surveying at Pa Yo Kwe next to Moe Ro village on the lower part of Tenasserim River."
Pdoh Saw Eh Htoo said the survey area is under the control of the KNU Ler Mu Lah Township office.
The Italian-Thai Development Company and Windfall Energy Services of Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding with the former Burmese military government on October 9, 2008 to build the dam.
The Italian-Thai Development Company stopped its survey last year after the KNU demanded the company carry out more comprehensive environmental impact assessments.
From the end of 2008 until May 2011, Italian-Thai surveyors and Burma Army soldiers carried out a series of surveys on the Tenasserim River, including river level and flow charts.
Pdoh Saw Eh Htoo said, “The villagers asked me, ‘Is the dam going to be built.' I cannot give them the answer. It will depend on the KNU district’s decision. The local people say they don’t want the dam to be built.”
Township officials are concerned that if the dam is built in the area, at least12 villages will be flooded and many more affected.
Two potential dam sites have been considered on the river. The upper dam site is near Ler Pa Doh village and the lower dam site is near Mo Ro village.
Italian-Thai, Thailand’s largest construction company, was awarded the contract by the former Burmese military government for the development of the Dawei project, a huge deep-sea port and refinery project. The infrastructure development will cost approximately US$ 8 billion, and the industrial area could cost up to $58 billion.
The project includes a deep seaport, roads and railways linking to the Thai border in Kanchanaburi, and heavy and light industries zones.
Funding has been slow to come on the project and infrastructure construction is proceeding at a slow pace, according to reports.