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Sirindhorn Dam, Thailand


Sirindhorn hydropower dam was built by EGAT (Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand) for the purpose of hydropower and irrigation and is in operation since 1971. It is located in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchatani, Thailand. It impounds the Lam Dom Noi River, and its reservoir is the province's largest water resource. The electricity is generated for domestic markets . However, a proposed irrigation canal for improved agriculture was never built. Protests began by the affected villagers after the beginning of the construction period in 1968 through establishing an anti-dam village opposite the dam entrance. Compensation provided on behalf of the government was in the form of resettlement of houses and land. However, land was of poor quality. In 1995, the Assembly of the Poor (AoP - a grassroots social movement) was established and some of the memberships were villagers affected by the Sirindhorn Dam asking for fair compensation for their lost land and livelihoods. Villagers have still only received partial compensation, estimated to cover approximately 80% of lost land but no compensation for livelihood loss. Protests continue to seek fair compensation and for the dam floodgates to remain open permanently (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7).

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sirindhorn Dam, Thailand
State or province:Ubon Ratchatani Province, Northeast Thailand
Location of conflict:Sirindhorn District
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Turbine and generator have three units of 12 MW each (36 MW total) and the annual energy output is estimated at approximately 90 Gwh

Project area:6,880
Level of Investment:The cost of the project is unknown. See comments below.
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,365 households
Start of the conflict:1971
Company names or state enterprises:Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) from Thailand
Relevant government actors:Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
Japanese Government
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Assembly of the Poor (AoP), The Northern Farmer Networks, The Assembly of the Mun River Basin
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Affected villagers previously supported themselves through subsistence farming, fishing, hunting, and harvesting forest products. Forced resettlements resulted in many losses in these traditional livelihoods. Each household received approximately US$560 as compensation; however, resettlement villagers had infertile soils and subsistence farming was no longer possible. Many villagers began protesting for their rights; however, these rights have been repeatedly ignored and the government has been selective in which households receive compensation. (1) (2)
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Agenda 21

Power Development Plan (Thailand)

Ratification of Rio Declaration

Ninth National Plan (Thailand, from 2002 to 2009)

Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2550, article 57, article 58, article 66, article 67, article 85, article 87 (Thailand, 2007)

Official Information Act (Thailand, 1997)

National Environment Quality Act (Thailand, 1992)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(5) Missingham, Bruce. 2003. The Assembly of the Poor: From Local Struggle to National Social Movement Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books

(7) Zeller, Nicholas Ryan. (2012). New Means, Old Ends? World Bank Governmentality in Thailand and Laos People†™s Democratic Republic. Master of Arts Thesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. May 2012.

(2) David J.H. Blake (2013) Thai dam- Affected villagers demand fair compensation, Guest Blog Writer for International Rivers

(6) Piaporn Deetes, Living Rivers Siam (2008) Plans for some old dams unfortunately never die, Opinion piece published in the Bangkok Post

(4) Imhof, Aviva (2000) Dam Busting, Anti dam protests in Thailand The Ecologist 30:6 pp 50-51

(1) David J.H. Blake (2013) Sirindhorn Dam Affected Communities Still Seeking Justice and Compensation, Guest Blog Writer for International Rivers

(3) Foran, Tira & Kanokwan Manorom. 2009. Pak Mun Dam: Perpetually Contested? Contested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region: Hydropower, Livelihoods and Governance, ed. by F. Molle, T. Foran & M. Käkönen, 55-80. London, Sterling, VA: Earthscan.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[click to view]

(8) INTERNATIONAL RIVERS NGO, Affected Villagers.
[click to view]

Other comments:The cost of the project is unknown. It was co-financed by the Thai government, the Japanese government, and the World Bank. The expenditure reported for compensation of the villagers in 1973 was of 578,241 US$ (18,8 Million Baht).
Meta information
Contributor:Carl Middleton, Sarah Allen, Matilde Sgotto
Last update05/07/2014
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