FBR REPORT: Villagers displaced by SPDC dam construction; 44 square miles of villages, farms and orchards destroyed in Western Karen State, Burma
Karen State, Burma
1 December, 2009

  This report was completed and is being sent out directly from the field by the Naunglebin District, Free Burma Ranger teams monitoring the building of this dam and the displacement of the people.
New Shwe Gyin Dam project, Naunglebin District, Karen State.

In 2005 the SPDC started a dam construction project on the Shwe Gyin Chaung, a mile above ShweGyin town. The dam is projected to be completed in December 2010. Already over 1,000 people have been displaced and when completed, the dam will destroy large areas of the local people’s land and villages. Already 44 square miles of villages, farms and orchards have been affected.

Objective of the dam

All along the Sittaung River the SPDC have built dams with the goal of 2000 Mega Watts of power. The Shwe Gyin dam is a part of this dam system and will provide 75 Mega Watts of power. The electricity will go to all of Burma.

Dam Specifications

The width of the dam will be 3610 feet and 185 feet high. It will be 1,685,000 square feet minimum, and the estimated resulting lake will be 44 square miles. The power of the dam will be 75 Mega Watts and have an output of 262 Kilo Watts. The dam will be finished in 2010 and now is currently about 92 percent done. The dam is located at N18° 02′ E96° 57′.

Dam Impact

The dam when finished will flood 44 square miles of land in the Shwe Gyin River valley, including the villages of Ler Wah, Kwi Lah, Ler Pau Tha, Ya-Aung, and Ta Say Der. 24 villages will be destroyed by the resulting lake. Also, 1950 acres of indigenous people’s belongings such as farms, orchards, and fields will be lost. While some of the villages have already been abandoned due to Burma Army activity, the farms, orchards, and fields are still in use.

Shwe Gyin Dam Schematics

If the dam is completed the local people in the northern part of Hsaw Hti will face many problems. They will not be able to live in their current residences and will have to move out.

Shwe Gyin Dam Plan Layout
Map showing dam site and projected results


Early in 2005, the SPDC asked a Japanese consultant to advise them on the dam site. The consultant said it would be easy to build, but that it is not a good site for permanent construction because in one or two years the dam can be damaged easily by the water. The Burma Army ignored the advice saying that they will do the “Myama” way, so in 2007 they started to build the dam. This has led to speculation about the reasons for the dam, including some which state that the Burma Army is using the flood waters to drive away villagers and so claim their land (under which are rich Gold mines).

Other Dams

Moreover, in the future, another dam is planned to be built on another river called the BawGata Chaung. Construction will be started in December 2009. Currently all the supplies for this dam have been sent and have arrived at Nyaunglebin. Division 77 is responsible for security and supplies transportation.

The results of the BawGata Dam will be similar to the Shwe Gyin Dam if completed. Force labor will be used to construct the dam and many villages in the mountains above the dam site will be forced to either move or risk floodin.

Area Coordinator

Nyaunglebin District

Free Burma Rangers

New Shwe Gyin Dam project, Naunglebin District, Karen State.
New Shwe Gyin Dam project, Naunglebin District, Karen State.
New Shwe Gyin Dam project, Naunglebin District, Karen State.
New Shwe Gyin Dam project, Naunglebin District, Karen State.