The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand has cut short the surveying phase of the Salween dam project after one of its workers died from injuries sustained in a landmine accident in Burma.

Surveyor Chana Mongplee lost a leg on May 3 after stepping on a landmine near where EGAT and Burmese authorities plan to build the Hat Gyi dam in Karen State. He died as a result of his injuries on May 9.

EGAT staff working on the Salween project told Mizzima today they had stopped their surveys of the area short of completion after Chana Mongplee died.

“We didn’t feel very secure and the surveying was almost complete anyway,” a spokesman said.

But the project to construct the dams will continue without the completed surveys and Chana Maung, the director of EarthRights International’s Southeast Asia office, told Mizzima that while EGAT had not been forthcoming on details of the dam project so far, the lack of completed survey information would compound the problem.

“If they do not finish the surveys they cannot answer to civil society,” Chana Maung said.

He said there was a danger that if the surveys were not completed the only authorities with accurate information on the impact on the environment and the villages surrounding the dam projects would be Burmese military officials, who are notorious for their secrecy.

“A lot of people have to suffer from relocation. If they don’t finish the surveys they will say they will leave it to the [State Peace and Development Council],” he said.

The Salween dam project has been widely criticised by rights groups who say it will cause serious environmental degradation and will mean forced relocation and a loss of livelihood for a variety of Burma’s ethnic groups.