Current Status of Dams on the Salween River - February 2016

Salween Watch
Monday, February 29, 2016
Map of proposed dams on the Salween River
Map of proposed dams on the Salween River

Much of the mighty Salween River continues to flow freely. Beginning in the Tibetan Himalayan Mountain Range, the river meanders through China’s Yunnan Province where it runs parallel to the Mekong and Yangtze Rivers, forming the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It then flows across the Burma (Myanmar) border into Shan State, and on into Kayah (Karenni) State, forming the border between Burma, in Karen State, and Thailand, in the Mae Sariang and Sob Moei Districts of Mae Hong Son, before flowing into Mon State and emptying into the sea at Moulmein. The entire length of the river is 2,800 kilometers.

The Salween River is home to a large number of diverse ethnic groups and is a rich hub of natural resources. It is a highly complex ecosystem, teeming with life. Unlike other major rivers around the world, the Salween remains largely untouched by man-made developments. 

In the past several decades however efforts have been made to develop hydropower projects along the entire length of the Salween River in Burma. The proposed projects have faced strong opposition as result of their expected impacts on human rights and the environment, as well as on-going armed conflict between Burmese security forces and ethnic groups along the River. 

The Myanmar Times reported that in early March 2016, the Minister of Energy from the Thai military regime visited the country to talk with the Government of Burma about cooperation on energy production and the development of the Mong Ton Dam in Shan State. The vast dam project will have ten times the capacity of Bhumipol Dam in Thailand. 

The following report provides the latest updates of the hydropower projects proposed for development on the Salween River and its tributaries.