Chapter 6: Issues, Interests and Actors in the Pak Mun Dam Project
Pak Mun Dam is located near Ban Hua Haeo (the village of Hua Haeo) in Kong Chiam District of the Ubon Ratchathani Province in north-eastern Thailand. It has been constructed between 5.5 and 6 km from the confluence with the Mekong River on the border of Lao PDR. The dam is a roller-compacted, or run-of-the-river, type and has eight sluice gates that can be opened and closed to adjust the flow of the river and the volume of reservoirs. If necessary, all eight sluice gates can be opened to let the river flow almost naturally. Pak Mun Dam was the first of its type constructed in Thailand to facilitate the landscape of the Mun-Chi River Basin, which is prone to floods. Initially, the Pak Mun Dam project emerged as part of a hydropower development plan in the Mun-Chi River Basin, which covers approximately 118 000 km2 and is nearly one-third of north-eastern Thailand (USBR, 1965: 3; CCI, 1970: 12). There are 38 major tributaries along the Mun and Chi rivers (USBR, 1965: 47). Natural resources and water from the rivers in the north-east, therefore, are vital to the livelihoods of human inhabitants. For some village communities, rivers and their ecosystems are foundations of their cultural, economic and social livelihoods. They would describe themselves as ‘river people’. As we discussed in Chapter 3, with the emergence of the Mekong Committee in 1957, the development planning in the Mekong River Basin was initiated by various studies. Among those studies, the 1958 Wheeler...
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