Dawei’s coastal calm disrupted by Thailand’s industrial plans

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Dawei is situated along the Andaman sea in southern Myanmar. The area’s abundant natural resources and strategic coastal location have attracted both tourism and industrial development plans.

Small-scale fishing boats near Myawyik Pagoda, Dawei. (Photo by Dawei Watch Thailand.)

Small-scale fishing boats near Myawyik Pagoda, Dawei. (Photo by Dawei Watch Thailand.)

The Dawei Special Economic Zone (DSEZ) in the Dawei district of Tanintharyi Region is a planned massive multi-billion-dollar project that includes a deep-sea port, heavy industries and extensive transport links. It would form a regional industrial hub located just 350 km west of Bangkok and allow cargo ships to dock in southern Myanmar and avoid the busy Strait of Malacca.

Thailand’s largest construction firm, Italian-Thai Development (ITD), initiated the project in 2008 and has begun appropriating and clearing land, and constructed a small port and roads through the Tenasserim Hills that connects Dawei to Thailand. In 2013, the project was transformed into a Government-to-Government project between Thailand and Myanmar.

The project has met resistance due to its right violations, land grabbing and potentially enormous ecological impacts on coastal livelihoods. Hundreds of farmers have already lost land to the project, but tens of thousands more would be required to give up farmland if the project continues.

Local civil society in Dawei comprised of various groups are raising concerns about the projects to protect their homeland and livelihoods.

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