November 3, 2013

Call on Laotian people to save our Land, Very Soon Mekong dam will destroying the region’s lifeblood

Help Us Save the Mekong River!

Our River feeds Millions

The Mekong River is under threat. The governments of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are considering plans to build 11 big hydropower dams on the river's mainstream

Mekong Dams: Opposition Grows to Laos’ Mega Dams

Key Issues:
Xayaburi, Don Sahong, and Lower Mekong Mainstream Dams

A renewed push to build hydropower dams on the lower Mekong mainstream is threatening the river’s ecosystems, aquatic resources and the fishery-dependent livelihoods of millions of people.

แม่น้ำโขง

แม่น้ำโขง – สายน้ำที่ยาวที่สุดในอุษาคเนย์ และยาวเป็นอันดับสิบของโลก จากต้นกำเนิดบริเวณเทือกเขาหิมาลัย แม่น้ำโขงไหลผ่านถึง 6 ประเทศ จากที่ราบสูงทิเบต ผ่านภาคตะวันตกเฉียงใต้ทางมณฑลยูนนาน ประเทศจีน ไหลสู่ พม่า ลาว ไทย กัมพูชา ก่อนจะออกสู่ทะเลจีนใต้ที่ดินดอนสามเหลี่ยมปากแม่น้ำประเทศเวียดนาม รวมความยาวทั้งสิ้น 4,909 กิโลเมตร

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.terraper.org/mainpage/key_issues_detail_en.php?kid=8&langs=en

The international community should not let the Lao government get away with such a blatant violation of international law. We are calling on donor governments and the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to take a firm stand against Laos. 

More information from http://www.internationalrivers.org/
“The international community should not let the Lao government get away with such a blatant violation of international law,” said Ms. Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Program Director for International Rivers. “We are calling on donor governments and the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to take a firm stand against Laos. The Xayaburi Dam is the first of a cascade of devastating mainstream dams that will severely undermine the region’s development efforts. The food security and jobs of millions of people in the region are now on the line.”
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Xayaburi Construction’s Photo

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/multimedia/photo/257475/laos-river-life/embed

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/236558/activists-call-to-scrap-lao-dam-project

Activists are unhappy with Laos’ pledge to study the environmental effects of the controversial Xayaburi hydro dam.  Click for more

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/laos-evades-responsibility-with-dam-construction-30193861.html

Ame Trandem, Pianporn Deetes
November 8, 2012 1:00 am

In clear defiance of its neighbours and a regional agreement, the Lao government announced that it would hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the Xayaburi Dam site on the Mekong River on Wednesday, November 7. Viraphonh Viravong, Laos’ deputy minister of energy and mining, said “It has been assessed, it has been discussed the last two years. We have addressed most of the concerns.
After the ceremony, the project developers are expected to begin construction on the cofferdam, which diverts the river while the permanent dam wall is built. The cofferdam is expected to be completed by May 2013.

The international community should not let the Lao government get away with such a blatant violation of international law. We are calling on donor governments and the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to take a firm stand against Laos.

The Xayaburi Dam is the first of a cascade of devastating mainstream dams that will severely undermine the region’s development efforts. The food security and jobs of millions of people in the region are now on the line.

Construction activities at the dam site began in late 2010. In April 2011 the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments asked the Lao government for further studies on the project’s trans-boundary effects. In December 2011 the four governments of the Mekong River Commission met and agreed to conduct further studies on the effects of the Xayaburi Dam and 10 other proposed mainstream dams. To date, no regional agreement has been made to build the Xayaburi Dam despite the 1995 Mekong Agreement’s requirement that the governments of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos cooperate and seek joint agreement on mainstream projects.

Laos said it would cooperate with neighbouring countries, but this was never genuine. Instead, the project always continued on schedule and was never actually delayed. None of Vietnam and Cambodia’s environmental and social concerns have been taken seriously. Laos has never even collected basic information about the ways that people depend on the river, so how can it say that there will be no impacts?

On October 22, Vietnam’s minister of natural resources and environment met the Lao prime minister and requested that all construction on the Xayaburi Dam be stopped until necessary studies to assess the effects of Mekong mainstream dams were first carried out.

Laos continues to deny that the dam will have trans boundary impacts and is applying the recommended mitigation measures made by Finnish consulting company Poyry and French company Compagnie Nationale du Rhone, despite the fact that the project has never carried out a trans-boundary impact assessment. The Cambodian government, Vietnamese government, and scientists throughout the Mekong region have disagreed with the work of these companies.

Laos is playing roulette with the Mekong River, offering unproven solutions and opening up the Mekong as a testing ground for new technologies. When the Mekong River Commission stays quiet and tolerates one country risking the sustainability of the Mekong River and all future trans-boundary cooperation, something is seriously wrong.

As Thai companies serve as the project’s developers and financers, and the Thai government will purchase the bulk of the Xayaburi Dam’s electricity, Thailand has the responsibility to call for a stop to construction immediately and cancel its power purchase agreement until there is regional agreement to build the dam. This move by Laos sets a dangerous precedent for the future of the Mekong region. If Laos is allowed to proceed unhindered, then in the future all member governments will proceed unilaterally on projects on the Mekong River. The Mekong Agreement will become yet another useless piece of paper.

Unless the Mekong dam crisis is tackled immediately, the future of the region is in great danger. With the Asian and European heads of states gathered in Vientiane, Laos for the Asem Summit, it’s time that the international community takes a strong stand and makes it clear that such actions by Laos will not be tolerated.

Ame Trandem is Southeast Asia programme director, International Rivers. Pianporn Deetes is Thailand campaign coordinator, International Rivers.

http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/laos-evades-responsibility-and-plows-ahead-with-xayaburi-dam-7714

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Credits: International Rivers

August 28, 2014

To Study Evolution, Scientists Raise Fish That ‘Walk’ on Land

NBC News

Science /Science News

An unusual species of fish that can walk and breathe air shows that these animals may be more capable of adapting to life on land than previously thought, researchers say.

The new findings may help explain how the ancient fish ancestors of humans colonized the land.

The evolution of the ancient fish that switched from living in water to living on land about 400 million years ago is one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the animal kingdom. These first four-limbed animals, known as stem tetrapods, ultimately gave rise to amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Just how ancient fish made the shift to terrestrial life still remains largely a mystery. To learn more about what happened, scientists investigated the bichir (Polypterus senegalus), a modern African fish that has lungs for breathing air, and stubby fins it can use to pull itself along on land. The bichir possesses many traits similar to ones seen in fossils of stem tetrapods, the researchers said.

The scientists raised groups of bichir on land for eight months to find out how they would differ from bichir raised in the water. They found that the land-raised fish lifted their heads higher, held their fins closer to their bodies, took faster steps, undulated their tails less frequently and had fins that slipped less often than bichir raised in water. The land-raised fish also underwent changes in their skeletons and musculature that probably paved the way for their changes in behavior. All in all, these alterations helped bichir move more effectively on land.

The results suggest that the bichir is more malleable during its development than previously thought. This plasticity is what made this fish capable of growing up very differently depending on its environment, and the researchers suggest that stem tetrapods were similarly adaptable.

University of Ottawa biologist Emily Standen and her colleagues Hans Larsson and Trina Du of McGill University’s Redpath Museum detailed their findings in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

This is a condensed version of a report from LiveScience. Read the full report. Follow Live Science on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

First published August 27th 2014, 8:08 pm

August 28, 2014

Bouncing down: The back roads of history (The Ho Chi Minh Trail)

Bouncing down: The back roads of history

Posted On Aug 25, 2014
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://theadvisorcambodia.com/2014/08/bouncing-back-roads-history/

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent rides the Ho Chi Minh Trail on a 1989 pink Honda cub

The Ho Chi Minh Trail, for those of you who’ve forgotten, was a transport network running from North Vietnam to South Vietnam, via Laos and Cambodia. Originally made up of primitive footpaths used for local trade, by the time of the Vietnam War the Trail was used to supply weapons, fuel and men in vast quantities to fight the Americans. According to the US government, the Trail was “one of the great achievements of military engineering of the 20th century”.

It also caused a great deal of trouble for both Laos and Cambodia: Laos was hit by an average of one B-52 bomb load every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973. US fighters dropped more bombs on Laos than were dropped by all sides during the whole of the Second World War. And in Cambodia, American bombing provided a huge impetus for the rise of the Khmer Rouge.
The scale of the Trail was breathtaking. Covering more than 2,000 kilometres, from Sihanoukville in the south and Hanoi in the north, through thick jungle and over the 2,500-metre Truong Son mountain range in Laos, much of it was hidden from the bombers by tied-together tree canopies and trellises. The Americans used increasingly sophisticated weaponry to try to disrupt the Trail, including dousing it with Agent Orange, but all to no avail.

Agent Orange, a viciously unpleasant herbicide and defoliant, was used to strip the ground of plant cover, so the North Vietnamese would have nowhere to hide. According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4.8 million people were exposed to the chemical, leaving 400,000 dead and 500,000 children born with birth defects. And reports suggest that at the end of the war, 80 million bombs had fallen on the three countries but not exploded, leaving an appalling and deadly legacy.

So, all in all, the Trail was a hugely important hinge for modern Southeast Asian history. It has been traversed before by modern travel writers, on foot and on motorbike: a guy called Chris Hunt rode the length of the Trail on a Russian-made Minsk 125cc in 1995. To top that, British-born Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent decided to make the journey on a bubblegum-pink 1989 Honda C-90 stepthru moped, because “doing it on a proper dirt bike seemed too easy”. She had to have the engine rebuilt four times during the trip, so she clearly found the difficulties she was looking for.

Pink vehicles seem to be something of a motif for Bolingbroke-Kent; previously she had driven a pink tuk tuk from Bangkok to Brighton. On the Trail, at a stately 20mph, she fords rivers, climbs mountains and braves the heat and dust and loneliness and potential tiger attacks, staying in grubby guesthouses, swatting insects and drinking warm Pepsi. If her writing is sometimes a little flat, her knowledge of the history of the Trail, as well as her views on unexploded ordnance and the effects now of the logging and deforestation along the way, are invaluable.
As economic progress turns the Ho Chi Minh Trail into well-paved routes for shipping wood abroad for garden furniture, the Trail itself is disappearing; this is a decent book on a fascinating subject.

August 24, 2014

Laos-located Don Sahong hydropower project impacts discussed

Laos-located Don Sahong hydropower project impacts discussed

 

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/110350/laos-located-don-sahong-hydropower-project-impacts-discussed.html

VietNamNet BridgeHydropower projects on the Mekong River, including the Don Sahong in Laos, will pose a threat to the balance of water, fish, and alluvium resources, while harming the ecosystem in the Mekong Delta region, said an expert on climate change.

Prof. Doc. Le Anh Tuan from the Research Institute for Climate Change at Can Tho University, pointed out that Don Sahong, the second hydropower project to be developed on a section of the Mekong River running though Laos, could lead to an extinction of catfish and other migrant fish species in the river.

It would also remarkably reduce the number of endemic fish in downstream areas, Tuan said at a conference held on August 21 in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho to prepare ideas to be contributed to the proposed Don Sahong hydropower project on the mainstream of the Mekong River.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thanh Hai, office manager of the Steering Committee for Southwestern Region, said if all 12 hydropower projects are developed upstream, 55 percent of the Mekong River will become large reservoirs. Meanwhile, downstream areas, especially the Mekong Delta region, would suffer from environmental risks, he said.

At the same time, climate change and sea level rise would lead to salinity intrusion in most of the farming areas in the region, affecting the livelihood of about 30 million residents, he said.

Nguyen Huu Thien, an independent specialist, said the whole region would be affected by decisions on hydropower development in the Mekong River – one of the greatest rivers in the world possessing a rich resource that feeds millions of people.

He emphasised that the decisions must base on thorough, quality researches with consultations from governments and communities affected.

During the event, scientists updated the development process of hydropower projects on the Mekong River mainstream, assessment of environment impact of Don Sahong dam, and consultation process for Xayabury hydropower project.

Participants discussed ways to organise the consultations on Don Sahong project and how Mekong Delta localities engage in the process in a most effective manner.

The Mekong River is the world’s 12th longest river. It runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

VNA/VNN

August 24, 2014

Laos draws Vietnamese workers

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/society/110348/laos-draws-vietnamese-workers.html

Workers produce fresh coffee beans at a plant run by Thai Hoa Group in Laos. There are currently around 13,500 Vietnamese workers in Laos working on investment projects between the two countries. 

VietNamNet Bridge – More and more Vietnamese workers have been going to Laos in recent years to help on investment projects between the two countries. The figure is expected to exceed 20,000 by 2015.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) told a conference early this week that most Vietnamese were skilled, adding that the present number of Vietnamese workers in Laos was about 13,500 people.

According to the Association of Vietnamese investors in Laos, nearly 7,000 were employees of the Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group, a large company that operates in furniture, real estate, football and mining.

Viet Nam Rubber Group has nearly 1,000 workers and the Song Da Corporation about 600.

Reports from Vietnamese enterprises that have invested in Laos show that Vietnamese unskilled workers in Laos are paid an average of US$250 a month while skilled workers receive about $500.

In addition to salary, the workers are also given living away from home allowances. They also benefit from Viet Nam’s social and health insurance policy and holiday system.

Tong Hai Nam, deputy director of the Department of Overseas Labour, said the presence of Vietnamese workers in Laos has helped relieve the problem of a labour shortage in the country, especially in the fields of energy, and infrastructure – and helped meet the demand of large investment projects.

He said the strong development of investment co-operation projects in Laos created strong demand for Vietnamese workers.

In addition to workers sent to Laos through mainstream channels, a considerable number come from provinces that share the same border with Laos, such as Nghe An and Ha Tinh.

Nghe An, in particular, sent many workers to Laos as it shared a 419km border with three provinces in Laos – Bolikhamsai, Xieng Khouang and Hua Phan.

Nghe An has more than 50 enterprises involved in the import and export of goods to Laos or are involved in mineral exploitation, wood processing and manufacturing, wine production, steel making, forest exploitation, tourism, small truck businesses, making farm products and consumer goods. Their total investment is said to worth more than $70 million.

Deputy Minister of Labour Nguyen Thanh Hoa said he hoped the signing of a new Labour Co-operation Agreement between the two countries would lead to a supply of Laotian workers for Vietnamese companies in Laos.

He also said Vietnamese companies would back vocational training programmes to help develop quality human resources for Laos.

Source: VNS

August 24, 2014

ADB: Hydropower project in Laos secures $217m loan

Hydropower project in Laos secures $217m loan

By

Infrastructure & Generation | Aug 24, 2014

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.energylivenews.com/2014/08/24/hydropower-project-in-laos-secures-217m-loan/

Copyright: Thinkstock

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved funding worth $217 million for a 290MW hydropower project in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

The bulk of the electricity generated by Nam Ngiep 1 will be delivered to neighbouring Thailand, which relies heavily on natural gas. The project is expected to cut around 500,000 tons of carbon emissions in Thailand every year.

The Lao PDR has a hydropower potential of 20,000MW, according to the ADB.

Kurumi Fukaya, Lead Investment Specialist at ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department said: “The project is a win-win for the Lao PDR and Thailand. It will generate revenues for the Lao PDR’s economic and social development and provide Thailand with cost-efficient power.”

The facility is expected to start producing electricity in 2019.

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World Bank supports hydropower sector in Laos

By

Aug 20, 2014

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.energylivenews.com/2014/08/20/world-bank-supports-hydropower-sector-in-laos/

Vientiane, capital of Laos. Copyright: Thinkstock
Vientiane, capital of Laos. Copyright: Thinkstock

The World Bank is supporting the renewable energy industry in Laos by providing a multi-million pound loan.

It has signed an agreement with the Government of Loa People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) for new financing worth $17.8 million (£10.7m) to help the nation manage its hydropower and mining resources.

The cash will be used for the ‘Technical Assistance for Capacity Building in the Hydropower and Mining Sectors Project’ in Laos, which is expected to help the nation meet the power and hydro demands of its neighbouring countries.

Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, Vice Minister of Finance of the Lao PDR said: “The projects will contribute to the socioeconomic development and environmental sustainability of Lao PDR.”

 

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