The Rasi Salai Dam, located just upstream from Pak Mun Dam on Thailands
Mun River, has been a disaster since it was first proposed. The project
was the first to be built of 13 dams planned to irrigate land in northeast
Thailand as part of the Kong-Chi-Mun Water Diversion project. Originally
slated as a five meter high inflatable rubber dam, the final product,
completed in 1994, was a 17 meter high concrete dam with a large reservoir.
The project was supposed to irrigate about 5,500 hectares. However, Rasi
Salai Dam is currently useless and likely to remain so. The reservoir
sits on top of a huge salt dome creating water too salty for irrigation.
Because of this design flaw, Thailand's Office of Environmental Policy
and Planning has refused to give permission for the dam's irrigation canals
to be built. Further, the defunct project has cost more than six times
original estimates, even without the cost of construction of the associated
While project benefits have not materialized, Rasi Salai Dam has had
huge impacts on local villagers and the environment. More than 15,000
people lost farmland when the reservoir was filled, 60 percent of whom
have not received compensation. The dam blocked fish migration routes
and destroyed the largest freshwater swamp forest in the Mun River basin.
The forest provided a source of food and traditional medicine for the
villagers, fish habitat, flood control and water treatment.
For several years, affected people have rallied for the permanent decommissioning
of Rasi Salai Dam. In August 1999, more than 1,850 people created a village
in the reservoir area on the site of their old one and named it Mae Mun
Man Yuen Village #2, the Long Lasting Mun River Village. They risked drowning
in their quest for permanent opening of the dam gates.
In a victory for villagers, on July 6, 2000, Thailand's Science Minister
agreed to open all seven sluice gates of Rasi Salai to let the river run
free for at least two years for environmental recovery and to conduct
studies to determine who was affected by the project. Villagers are now
demanding that the gates be permanently opened.
All of the photos here feature the river ecosystem and villagers livelihoods
that will return to the Mun River after the Pak Mun and Rasi Salai Dam
gates are opened.
- Clever lies destroyed
our lives Bangkok Post, Aug 6, 2000
- Protesters moving out
of dam site The Nation, July 09, 2000
- Rasi Salai dam : Sluice
gates to open for two year Bangkok Post, July 07, 2000
- Minister orders opening
of Rasi Salai dam gates The Nation,
July 07, 2000
galore as groups press their demands The Nation, May
for Rasi Salai Dam hearing The Nation, May 24, 2000
at risk from drowning Bangkok Post, September 10, 1999
urged to address woes of villagers : Dam project Northeasterners,
Bangkok Post, November 5, 1999
villagers stage protest against dam,
The Nation, March 13, 2000
in sight, Bangkok Post, February 11, 2000
More about Rasi
Salai Dam in Thai >>