Apr 26, 2011, 9:14 GMT
Hanoi – The Vietnamese government has urged Laos to postpone construction of a controversial dam on the Mekong River, a senior official said Tuesday.
Vietnam asked Laos not to build the Xayaburi dam for a period of 10 years to enable a full impact assessment, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Pham Khoi Nguyen told the German Press Agency dpa.
Nguyen, who is the chairman of Mekong River Committee, said the government expressed concern over the dam, which would affect Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, and asked Laos to provide documents relating to its construction.
He said the documents that Vietnam had received lacked realistic statistical assessments.
Nguyen said the four-country committee would hold a ministerial level meeting in November to discuss the issue.
The Mekong River Committee failed on April 19 to reach agreement on the proposed 3.5-billion-dollar dam, which environmentalists warn could have a disastrous impact on downstream countries.
The Xayaburi project is one of 11 dams proposed on the lower Mekong River.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warned that the environmental impact assessment was ‘woefully inadequate and fell well below international standards for such studies.’
The WWF and 263 international non-governmental organizations have joined the Vietnamese call for a 10-year moratorium and full impact assessments.
Environmentalists said they fear that the Xayaburi dam would disrupt fish migrations in the lower Mekong, which would have devastating impacts on food supplies for millions of people.
China has already built four hydropower dams in Yunnan province on the upper Mekong, projects that have also been criticized by environmental groups and downstream governments.