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Historical background of the Pak Moon Dam

May 2, 2000, Bangkok Post  


Sofrelec, a French consulting firm, started a feasibility study on the hydropower potential of the Pak Moon River for the National Energy Authority (NEA) if a dam of the following characteristics was built:

Location: Kaeng Tana
Drainage area: 185 sq km
Normal water level: 112 m

February 1970

Sofrelec completed the feasibility study. It concluded that hydroelectric development on the Moon River was not viable.


Egat completed its own feasibility study.

September 1980

Sogreah, another French consulting firm, completed an updated feasibility of the Pak Moon Multipurpose Development Project. The study showed that a dam was technically and economically feasible.


The Pak Moon dam project was included in Egat's Power Development Plan (PDP). It was planned to start production in 1988.

January 1982

Team Consultants Engineers, a Thai consulting firm, completed an Environmental Impact Study commissioned by Egat. The dam considered in the study was located at the Kaeng Tana falls, and would have a normal water level of 112 m, requiring the resettlement of 4,000 households.


Kaeng Tana was designated a national park. This led to an identification of an upstream site for the dam at Ban Hua Heo.

October 1985

Sogreah completed a new feasibility study for a dam at Ban Hua Heo, to avoid destroying the Kaeng Tana falls. The study, called Pak Moon Multipurpose Development Project: Feasibility Study, proposed that the dam be built with a normal water level of 108 m.

April 1989

Egat submitted the Pak Moon project for approval by the Cabinet.

April 1989

Villagers began a campaign to stop the construction of the dam.

May 1989

The Cabinet approved the Pak Moon dam project with a total budget of 3.88 billion baht.


The Pak Moon Dam appeared in the PDP as follows:

Capacity: 136 MW

Completion date: November 1992

Cost in US$: 149.2 million

May 1990

The Government set up a Committee for the Compensation of Land Rights and Properties as well as a Committee for Resettlement.

June 1990

The World Bank produced an Executive Project Summary, indicating the bank's interest in the Pak Moon project.

October 1990

World Bank staff completed an appraisal of the Third Power System Project that included the Pak Moon Dam.

January 1991

Completion of preliminary work on the Pak Moon dam site.

February 1991

The Cabinet allowed Egat to operate a dam and power plant in Kaeng Tana National Park.

March 1991

Village representatives submitted a letter of protest against the construction of the dam to World Bank representatives in Bangkok.

May 1991

Egat began blasting rapids, causing damage to some houses in the area.

September 1991

The NESDB approved a 6.6 billion-baht modification of the project.

December 1991

The Board of Directors of the World Bank approved a US$54 million loan for the Third Power System Project, which included the Pak Moon Dam.

January 1992

Contracts were awarded to successful bidders for the construction of the dam.

March 1993

Villagers protesting at the dam site clashed with police. Subsequently, a negotiation was held, resulting in Egat agreeing to map out a plan to compensate displaced villagers.

November 1993

Completion of the powerhouse

December 1993

Village leaders Wanida Tantiwithyapitak and Thongcharoen Sihadham were arrested by Khong Jiam police.

December 1993

The Government set up a Committee for Assistance to Project Affected Persons to replace the Committee for the Compensation of Land Rights and Properties and the Committee for Resettlement.

January 1994

Before the impoundment of the dam, protesting villagers supported by NGOs came to Bangkok demanding compensation for families who depend on fishing to earn a living.

February 1994

Completion of coffer dams.

October 1994

Completion and commissioning of all four turbine generators and high-voltage equipment. Over 2,000 protesting villagers demanded an annual compensation of 35,000 baht per family for a period of three years, plus 10 rai of land for resettlement.

January 1995

Full operation started as all construction work was completed.

January 1995

The government agreed to compensate fishermen who lost their livelihood.

March 1995

The fisheries development centre was completed.

March 1995

Final disbursement of World Bank funds for the project.

June 1995

Khon Kaen University carried out a post-project implementation socio-economic survey of households affected by the dam.

December 1995

Villagers suffering from large-scale development projects decided to set up an umbrella group to address their problems under the name of the Forum of the Poor.

May 1996

The fisheries development centre started to stock the Moon River with fish.

June 1996

The World Bank completed its Implementation Completion Report on the Third Power System Development Project, which had a total cost of US$233 million.

December 1996

End of the fisheries development programme implemented by Egat with the help of World Bank funds.

September 1997

End of the fisheries development programme implemented by the Department of Fisheries with the help of World Bank funds.

April 1998

Chuan Leekpai's Cabinet Resolution cancelled a plan by previous governments to offer compensation to 3,084 families affected by the Pak Moon dam construction.

June 1998

The World Bank's Operations Evaluation Department released a report saying the Pak Moon Dam's resettlement programme was "exceedingly generous" it could be considered to be in "a class of its own". The OED report also denied the dam caused any decline in the fish population in the Moon River.

March 1999

A protest village called Mae Moon Man Yuen was established at the Pak Moon Dam site.

March 2000

The World Commission on Dams released a summary of its evaluation on the Pak Moon Dam, criticising the low returns of the project.

April 2000

Egat announced the government's compensation programme had reached its final stage, and no more villagers would receive any money. Negotiations over land compensation, however, is still under way.uSources: World Commission on Dams; Friends of People



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