Dawei Special Economic Zone Development Project
The Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Development Project is an enormous plan to build what could be among the largest industrial zones in the world if it goes according to plan. It would replace villages, plantations, rice fields, rolling hills, and ecosystems supporting endangered species with light and heavy industrial complexes, a road/highway, reservoirs, a power plant, and other facilities.
The project is in its initial phase (as of Oct 2015), and is supposed to expand into the full-phase after successful implementation of the initial phase. Local people are already voicing concerns. Some have already had their livelihoods uprooted in order to build a small port. Some have had their plantations bulldozed without prior notice to build a road. Some are protesting the construction of a dam that threatens to submerge their village.
The project formally started in May 2008 when the Thai and Burmese/Myanmar governments signed an agreement to build the Dawei SEZ. After hitting financial difficulties, the project was stalled, but has resumed again, especially after the Japanese government officially joined the project in July 2015, signing a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) with Thailand and Burma.
Main project proponents:
- Governments: Burma, Thailand and Japan
- Private Companies: Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD)
Location: 20km north of Dawei, capital of Tanintharyi Region.
Project Area: approx. 200 square km.
Social and Environmental Concerns:
- Involuntary resettlement
- Loss of livelihood, land and income
- Water and air pollution
- Destruction of ecosystem and wildlife habitat
- At this stage, it is unclear how many people will be affected, but the Dawei Development Association, a local civil society organization, estimates 22,000-43,000 people will be affected depending on the final scale of the project.
- Social impacts of migration as the SEZ is developed
Main Project Components:
- Industrial estate with:
- heavy industries including steel mill and fertilizer plant
- petrochemical complex
- light and medium industries
- logistics and transportation industries
- oil and gas industries
- coal fired power plant, hydropower
- Deep seaport
- Small port
- Telecom landline
- Transport (road/railway) linking Dawei SEZ and Thai-Burma border
- Water supply reservoir(s)
- New township and commercial sectors
- Resettlement villages for displaced populations
- LNG Terminal
A more detailed fact sheet can be downloaded here as a 5 MB PDF document: dawei_factsheet_eng_2016nov10 (5MB PDF)
Photo 1: Land that has been cleared for the initial phase of the Dawei SEZ.
Photo 2 This river in to be dammed in this area to build a reservoir to supply water to the SEZ.
Photo 3 The road link leading into Dawei. This 2-lane dirt road has already had impacts on wildlife and villager livelihoods. In the full phase, it is planned to expand this into a highway (depending on the plan, between 6-16 lanes).
For more detailed reports, press releases, and opinion pieces about this project, see blog Category “Dawei SEZ.”