The Wei Gyi and Dar Gwin dams in Karen State The planned site of the Upper Salween (Wei Gyi) Dam is on the northeastern border of Papun District, at the southern end of the 5-km long Kyaut Nyat (“Cliff”) Gorge, where the Salween river forms a whirlpool at Wei Gyi (meaning Great Whirlpool). This part of the river is well known by boat users as it so difficult to navigate throughout the year: in the dry season, the Mae Hro Rapids make passage through the Cliff Gorge dangerous, while in the rainy season, the Wei Gyi whirlpool increases in size and becomes more hazardous. Map 4: Detailed Map of Wei Gyi site 13
14 DAMMING AT GUNPOINT Map 5: Detailed Map of Dar Gwin site The planned site of the Lower Salween Dam is at Dar Gwin, which lies directly east of the town of Papun. Dar Gwin means literally “Knife Curve” and the river at this point makes a sharp-pointed turn around a narrow section of Thai territory about 5 kms long and 2 kms wide. During colonial times, the British had a border post at this site, as did the Thais, and traders would regularly cross the river at this point. According to Japan’s EPDC 5 (Electric Power Development Company) study the lower dam would complement the Wei Gyi dam (Upper Dam) as a pumped storage facility. The Reservoir for the Lower Dam will reach the base of the Upper Dam. The distance between the two dams will be 35 km. The reservoir for Upper Dam will be as long as 380 km: 56 km along the Karen-Thai Burma border and the remaining 324 km in Karenni State, inside Burma. The area of land to be flooded by the Upper Salween Dam (Wei Gyi) is estimated to be about 960 sq.km (237,220 acres) 6 : 30 sq. km in Thai territory and the rest will be in Papun District and Karenni State. The reservoir of the Lower Dam will be about 35 km in length, reaching the foot of the Upper Dam. The total flood area will be about 5 sq. km. 5 EPDC was approved to carry out initial dam studies in 1991 by the Joint Working Group for the Development of Hydroelectric Projects on Border River which was appointed by the Thai government and the Burmese regime. 6 On May 21, 2003, the EGAT Governor reported to the Thai Senate Commission on People’s Participation that the total reservoir would be 600,000 rai (960 sq kms).