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Pak Mun Dam


Fishing after opening the dam gates


Areal photo of the Mun River



     The Mun River is the largest tributary of the Mekong River and provides fish, vegetables and water for millions of people in northeastern Thailand. The 136 MW Pak Mun Dam, which was completed in 1994, was built by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand with US$24 million in financing from the World Bank. From the outset, the project was highly controversial due to the predicted impacts on the rich and productive fisheries of the Mun River. Between 1990 and 1997, there was intense opposition to the dam by thousands of people living in local communities along the Mun River.

     As a direct result of the dam, more than 20,000 people have been affected by drastic reductions in fish populations upstream of the dam site, and other changes to their livelihoods. The dam has blocked the migration of fish, and a fish ladder, promoted by the World Bank's fisheries experts as a mitigation measure, has proved useless.

     Pak Mun villagers and the Assembly of the Poor, the largest people’s organization in Thailand, are demanding that the Pak Mun Dam be decommissioned and the river restored. On March 23, 1999, more than 5,000 villagers occupied the Pak Mun dam site and established Ban Mae Mun Man Yuen No 1, the "Long-lasting Mun River Village No 1". They say they will fight until the gates are permanently opened and the fisheries of the Mun River are restored.

     In a victory for villagers, the Thai government agreed to open the dam gates in June 2001 while studies were conducted on fisheries, social impacts and the contribution of the dam to Thailand's electricity supply. These studies, completed by Ubon Ratchathani University, recommended opening the dam gates for five years. However, the Thai government rejected this recommendation and instead decided to close the gates for eight months each year. The gates were shut in November 2002 and have been opened for only four months per year since then.



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Living River Siam Association  138/1 Moo 4, Suthep, Muang, Chiang Mai, 50200   Thailand
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