Archive for ‘Xayaburi Dam’

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

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.”

 

August 24, 2014

Villagers call for say in Laos dam project

Villagers call for say in Laos dam project

Published: 23 Aug 2014 at 06.00

News Writer: Paritta Wangkiat

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/428245/villagers-call-for-say-in-laos-dam-project

Northern and northeastern villagers living along the Mekong River have called on the government to include them in the “prior consultation” process for the proposed Don Sahong dam in Laos. The villagers from eight provinces along the Mekong River, together with conservationists looking to preserve natural resources and Mekong-Lanna culture, submitted an open letter to the natural resources and environmental permanent secretary yesterday to express their concerns over the Don Sahong project.

“We’ve not yet heard anything about the project since it was agreed,” said Niwat Roykaew, a villager representative.

“Many villagers are concerned because they fear being excluded from participating in the decision-making process,” he said.

In June, Laos’ Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Viraphonh Viravong told a Mekong River Commission (MRC) meeting in Thailand that the Don Sahong project would be submitted for six months of prior consultation among the lower Mekong countries.

Laos had bowed to pressure to do so from the governments of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Mr Niwat said villagers feared events surrounding Laos’ controversial Xayaburi dam project would repeat themselves.

Villagers were told about the Xayaburi dam’s construction retrospectively and there was no mention of the dam’s environmental impacts, he added.

“That was not consultation, but notification,” he said. In their letter submitted yesterday, the villagers called for the Department of Water Resources (DWR), which provides secretarial services for the Thai MRC, to hold public consultations in all eight provinces with at least one to take place in a district adjacent to the Mekong River.

These consultations must be announced in advance by the government and by local administrative organisations on radio and in local newspapers to allow stakeholders to participate in them. Information from Laos on the Don Sahong project must be translated and provided to locals at least 30 days before the consultations, the letter said.

The network also demanded the DWR cancel studies into and monitoring of cross-border environmental impacts from hydroelectric power projects on the Mekong because they lacked local participation.

Laos signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Malaysian firm Mega First Corporation Berhad for the Don Sahong hydroelectric dam project in 2006, the second of nine proposed by Laos for the lower Mekong.

The first was for the Xayaburi dam. In June, the Supreme Administrative Court accepted a case brought by 37 villagers living along the Mekong River against Thai government agencies buying power from the Xayaburi dam.

 

August 19, 2014

ADB again under fire over safeguards in Laos dam

devex

ADB again under fire over safeguards in Laos dam

By Lean Alfred Santos@DevexLeanAS19 August 2014

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: https://www.devex.com/news/adb-again-under-fire-over-safeguards-in-laos-dam-84185

 

A Hmong family living along the Nam Ngiep. An energy project threatens to displace indigenous people and destroy the environment in the area. Photo by: International Rivers / CC BY-NC-SA

The Asian Development Bank is again under fire over alleged safeguards violations, this time about a hydropower project in Laos that two NGOs claim will displace indigenous people, affect livelihoods and destroy the area’s immediate environment.

ADB decided last week to give the green light to a $50 million loan for the dam in Nam Ngiep River in central Laos, which is expected to support the sustainable development of hydropower resources in the landlocked country and provide a reliable and affordable access to energy sources in neighboring Thailand. This, according to a Devex early intelligence report, would provide an increase in power generation capacity in Laos and improve the power trading between Laos and Thailand, as well as improve the integrated water resource management in the river basin.

The bank’s approval for the loan was however met with strong opposition from International Rivers and Mekong Watch, two international advocacy groups that argue the dam will not bring sustainable development to the affected communities.

“Even though the project has been approved, it should be a point of warning. ADB has a number of instances of investing in power projects [that] are not sustainable because of the effects to people,” Tanya Lee, International Rivers program director for Laos, told Devex. “In Laos, the way the development is being distributed, it is not possible for people to benefit equally.”

The project, worth around $900 million — with social and environmental costs budgeted at $52.5 million — is expected to generate a total of 290 megawatts of power, 93.7 percent of which will be exported to neighboring Thailand, according to official documents. The remaining 18 MW of power will be used for domestic on-grid electrification. Electricity production is expected to start at the beginning of 2019. Apart from ADB, the other financiers are the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and several commercial banks.

About 3,000 individuals from neighboring Hmong and Khmu ethnic communities are expected to be affected by the dam’s construction and operations. International Rivers and Mekong Watch assure these people “will have to involuntarily resettle to make way for the project.”

This is not the first time ADB has been under intense scrutiny over a development project’s safeguard issues.

In February, Devex reported about how the bank admitted its own mistakes regarding a controversial railway project in Cambodia denounced by local and international advocacy groups that accused ADB of not adhering to its environmental, social and safety standards. Even the bank’s internal watchdog pointed out the lapse in the process at the time.

Amid recent debate over World Bank safeguard policies and procedures, both cases underscore the importance of traditional development leaders like ADB to implement environmental, social and safety standards and thus demonstrate their commitment to accountability and integrity in their projects.

Consultations

International Rivers and Mekong Watch mentioned issues of lack of proper consultation, information inculcation and the cultural aspect of obedience of affected communities.

“When I interviewed villagers who will be affected by the proposed [project], they said they do not have enough information about the impacts,” Lee told Devex, adding that many agreed to give their approval because they fear “repercussions.”

She added: “They spoke about the presence of ‘authorities.’ They understand that the dam project is a priority of the government … There’s a feeling of pressure and in the context of Laos, people are concerned about repercussions.”

ADB refuted this, arguing both the bank and the power company involved conducted “more than 50 consultations at various levels” with the people in a “meaningful, transparent, participatory and inclusive manner.”

“ADB is satisfied that the process and results comply with [the bank’s] safeguard policy,” Kurumi Fukaya, ADB lead investment specialist for the project, told Devex. “We noted that the affected people are speaking freely without any fear and in fact, [the power company’s] transparency in explaining the project’s environmental and social impacts and its management’s plans solicited frank and serious discussions by the affected people.”

Fukaya further added that the views of stakeholders were considered in the process that resulted to changes in several project designs, including the location of the resettlement site, alterations to livelihood programs, and reduction of the maximum reservoir level of the dam on top of a grievance mechanism put up from the community level to resolve conflicts and disagreements.

Mind shift?

Other problems related to the project include forced resettlement, compensation and environmental safeguards.

While several studies and impact assessments have been made by stakeholders like the power company, it’s not yet clear whether these documents are comprehensive enough — and implementable — to cover all bases.

“ADB management will have to have a much higher recognition as to how difficult [it is] to carry out a project like this in compliance with safeguard policies,” Toshiyuki Doi, Mekong Watch’s senior adviser, told Devex.

Some of the environmental concerns are waste water management, greenhouse gas emissions and biomass removal, which the bank approved with the satisfaction of having “plans in place” after conducting due diligence.

ADB’s Fukuya said the affected people are already included within the scope of the bank’s resettlement and ethnic development plan, and will receive “compensation, replacement land, and support” — something that could make or break the affected communities’ development future.

Doi recalled the Cambodia railway case, echoing what several local groups back then were suggesting the need for a “mind shift” in the way the bank approves and implements future development projects.

“[The need for] ADB management to have a ‘mind shift’ that resettlement is not just moving from one place to another. It should be at the center of people’s development, and people should be at the center of it,” Doi said, adding that in his opinion, the way the Laos case is going, “I don’t think minds have changed or shifted.”

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

 

About the author

Lean santos 400x400

Lean Alfred SantosFollow @DevexLeanAS

 

Lean Alfred Santos is a Devex staff writer focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID. Prior to joining Devex, he covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics. Lean is based in Manila.


June 27, 2014

Laos to Hear Out Mekong Neighbors on Hydro Project

Don Sahong dam runs into trouble

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/417416/don-sahong-dam-runs-into-trouble

Thailand will reaffirm at the Mekong River Commission (MRC) meeting today that Laos’ Don Sahong hydro-power dam project must undergo a consultation process of member states before Vientiane can move ahead with its construction.

Chote Trachoo, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, who heads the Thai team at the meeting, said Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are concerned the dam could have an adverse ecological impact on the Mekong River.

A transboundary impact assessment of the river and its surrounding environment will be needed before Laos can start the project, he said.

Don Sahong dam is Laos’ second planned hydro-power dam project after the controversial Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River which borders the four countries.

Laos last year signalled its intention to develop the Don Sahong hydro-power dam project in the Siphandone area in the southern part of the country through the MRC’s ordinary notification process, arguing the project will be built on one of the river tributaries and not on the main river itself.

However, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand disagreed with it, saying the project should undergo a more extensive “prior consultation process” by member states of the MRC, as the potential for impacts was significant.

An agreement could not be reached by the four countries and the issue has been left for the MRC council to decide.

Speculation is rife that a decision might be made at the MRC ministerial meeting in Bangkok today.

The 260 mega-watt Don Sahong dam project is about two times the size of Pak Moon dam in Thailand.

Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are concerned the dam will block fish migration in the Mekong River, which is an important natural habitat for a large number of fish.

Some environmentalists said that the dam, if built, will destroy the ecological system of the Mekong River.

Pianporn Deetes, of the International Rivers group, said the MRC must protect the Mekong River’s conservation by considering the impacts which the dam will have on the river.

Any decision must be made based on a clear study on transboundary impacts and the people’s participation.

Meanwhile, Save the Mekong Coalition yesterday said immediate action should be taken to cancel construction of Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams.

Construction of Xayaburi dam is already underway.

—————–

Laos to Hear Out Mekong Neighbors on Hydro Project

By Steve Herman

June 26, 2014 2:38 PM

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.voanews.com/content/article/1945700.html

Laos has informed members of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) that it intends to move ahead with construction of the 260-megawatt Don Sahong dam but consider project modifications based on concerns of neighboring countries.

In a change of stance, Lao government officials recently said they will cooperate with the MRC and development partners before advancing the large and controversial project.

Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia have raised concerns about the environmental impact of the project.

Laos previously insisted the hydroelectric dam’s placement — on a braid of the Mekong and not on the mainstream — meant the project proposal needn’t comply with the commission’s formal prior-consultation process.

MRC Chief Executive Officer Hans Guttman told reporters his secretariat will facilitate the process, but that Laos could simply ignore objections because “there is no formal democratic process.”

“It does allow for a more formal consideration of the potential consequences and allows the Lao government then to take that in consideration if that would be the case,” he said. “But the process in itself does not necessarily say that we vote on the issue in the end.”

Chote Trachu, Thailand’s permanent secretary at the Ministry of Natural Resources, says his government appreciates Laos’s shift to more inclusive consultation process.

The International Rivers non-governmental organization calls the change “an opportunity for neighboring countries to have a voice in whether or not the project is built.” But in the meantime, the group says, Laos “should stop all construction at the site of the Don Sahong dam” so a true project assessment can be conducted.

Many environmental groups contend the hydroelectric project would destroy the river’s ecological system by blocking migration of fish.

Laos says it will continue work already started to improve channels in the project area to aid fish migration.

There is also substantial concern about the construction already progressing on another Mekong dam in Laos: The Xayaburi dam, financed by commercial banks in Thailand, is intended to produce about 1,300 megawatts of electricity, nearly all of it to be purchased by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

Last week, a consortium of conservation groups, including the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), sent a letter to the junta which now holds all executive and legislative power in Thailand asking for it to suspend or cancel the power purchase agreement for the dam.

The appeal calls the project “one of the potentially most damaging dams currently under construction anywhere in the world,” and one that “constitutes the greatest trans-boundary threat to date [regarding] food security, sustainable development and regional cooperation in the lower Mekong River basin.”

Cambodia and Vietnam have also objected to the Xayaburi project.

Thailand’s Supreme Administrative Court this week agreed to consider a lawsuit against the dam’s power purchase agreement.

International Rivers on Thursday hailed the court’s move as “a clear indication of the adverse trans-boundary impact the Xayaburi Dam is likely to have on the Mekong River’s ecosystem and people, despite earlier claims made by the Lao government that the project would be sustainable.”

The Mekong is the longest river in Southeast Asia, originating in the mountains of Qinghai province in China.

The lower Mekong basin supports nearly 60 million people. The river’s fish are an important source of protein consumed by that population. And the sediment and nutrients at the river’s mouth are critical for Vietnam’s productivity in the delta.

There are plans to construct a total of 12 hydro-power projects on the lower sections of the Mekong’s mainstream. Proponents say the projects are critical for economic development in the booming region and will help alleviate poverty.

 

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.
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