Mega Dams on the Thanlwin
“The Salween is one of the last great rivers of the region that has still not yet been dammed." Should the construction of mega dams, for energy export, be allowed to impact this river and the landscapes and community that surround it?
A collaboration between Chiang Mai-based Eureka films and DVB‘s investigative documentary team, “Mega Dams on the Thanlwin” explores a subject that has excited strong passions in Burma in the past, but which in this case has gone barely noticed outside of the affected area: the construction of mega-dams to supply neighboring countries with electricity.
Working with a skeleton crew in Karen and Mon states last year, filmmaker Tom Fawthrop interviewed activists, academics, and local people who stand to have their lives changed by Chinese-backed hydropower projects along the Thanlwin River, also known as the Salween.
The film specifically focuses on the Mong Ton Dam project in eastern Shan State. The proposed mega-dam will produce 34.7 billion kilowatt hours of energy per year — most of it for export to Thailand and China. Environmentalists estimated that the floodplain caused by the dam will displace between 200,000 and 300,000 civilians.