Dams

Welcome to the Nation of Dam

(The Nation of Laos or Pathet Million of Elephant or Pathet Lane Dam)

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Greater Mekong River

http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/greatermekong/

Imagine a place the ice age could not freeze, and where new species are discovered every week – this is the Greater Mekong.

Stunning wildlife, diverse people, big challenges

The Greater Mekong contains some of the richest and most biologically diverse habitats on our planet.

Its vast forests and wetlands harbour some of the world’s rarest species including Asian elephants, tigers, Javan rhinos, Irrawaddy dolphin and the elusive Saola.

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ON LINE  opinion  - Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate

Wet dreaming

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13933&page=0

By Melinda Boh
Posted Wednesday, 1 August 2012

“Look I dunno what the hell’s really going on in Sayaboury” the late American agricultural economist Charles Alton grumbled. “There is so much conflicting information and lack of transparency; and of course you can’t ask, as it’s so damned sensitive.” That he and many others, also chose not to be identified, is a mark of how ‘sensitive’ the Sayaboury dam in Laos continues to be.

In last week’s stories on the BBC and in The Economist have highlighted how controversial this dam is. Regional discussion forums have also generated a lot of conjectural heat. It is apparent that lies and videotape if not sex, are part of the scene as are elements of a French farce.

The authoritarian Lao government, unused to public scrutiny or questioning, has been at pains to play at transparency, while at the same time offering conflicting accounts of what is and about to happen. Despite evidence to the contrary from Lao and expatriates who have been observing the considerably advanced work, the government has repeated the mantra that work will not go ahead until all environmental studies have been done. Well they were. A strategic environmental study lead by Australian consultant Dr Jeremy Carew Reid recommended a ten year moratorium. The Lao government and dam principle contractor hired a Finnish firm Poyry whose findings gave a warm smile to the project. Poyry was later blacklisted by the World Bank.

The controversial dam will be situated on the Mekong River, south of the World Heritage city of Luang Prabang.

The Mekong is a river of legends, of tales told in conflict. It hosts glorious sunsets, holiday romance, questionable whiskey and slow boats. The Mekong is amongst the world’s ten largest rivers and an Asian icon. It runs through some poor nations and the poor parts of wealthy nations like Thailand. Over 60 million people depend on the Mekong for food but it is estimated that around 300 million may also use the brown swirling waters for irrigation, transport and domestic water.

Sacred to most Mekong basin people, damming the Lower Mekong may be like installing a diesel turbine into St Patrick’s.

Damned Dam

In legal terms work is supposed to have ceased on the dam itself after a deferment was declared by the Lao national government in December 2011 which followed an earlier moratorium in April, 2011. However, a Lao engineer working on another project near the site, reports that work is proceeding. Tellingly, transmission lines are still under construction and the road connection to Thailand almost complete. Andrew Bigham, an agricultural consultant said, “That’s the give away. If the dam wasn’t going ahead why should they continue building transmission lines?” since then work had proceeded on the coffer dam used to divert the water while the dam is constructed.

The conservation group International Rivers announced that over 22,000 people around the world has signed a petition opposing the Sayaboury dam. Laos, a nominally socialist country retains it secretiveness and paranoid control on information. Virtually all media is government owned and controlled, so the global protest was not reported, nor is it likely to make any difference.

“A ten year moratorium is absolutely critical to relieve the pressure for mainstream damming.” said Australian Jeremy Carew Reid in Hanoi. Carew Reid, a prominent environmental professional was team leader of the 2010 MRC commissioned Strategic Environmental Assessment. ” Ten years was a compromise. The SEA report would have been rejected politically if we had called for a total ban, which evidence suggests would be the preferred option. The member nations were inclined to go for no more than five years. We all felt that ten years was long enough to cool off or disconnect the current wave of developer proposals and financing negotiations.”

A lot of informed Lao, are very concerned about the Sayaboury dam, the first of the many dams planned for the Lower Mekong and worry it is a harbinger for more Chinese construction. Many NGO’s, natural scientists included, harbour what seems to be a rather naïve assumption that rationality will prevail.

There is sufficient evidence to indicate that the dam represents a complex mélange of elite interests, and a renegotiation of regional power structures. Observers have suggested that being the ‘battery of Asia’ is far better than being the ‘hayseed of Asia’, and accords Lao improved regional status. By ensuring energy dependency, Lao could have greater regional leverage and prestige, despite the potential PR disaster of an ecological calamity and public resistance.

Magsaysay Award winner Sombath Somphone wrote in an email ;

It has been a common practice here, that the private sector invests or starts working on a project before official approval (is given)… The private sector sees it as a gamble to win sympathy of “soft-hearted” officials…they usually get the concessions or the approvals at the end. The officials often use the excuse that the private sector had invested so much already they might as well give them the concession. Cho Karnchang, (the contractor) is doing exactly that at the moment. It is an oriental way of lobbying.

Hard Line

While a lot is said about transboundary negotiations and consultations, the most comprehensive being a report by Portland State University and Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Mai, the Lao government’s inclinations are not to consult or seek agreement. Despite dropping Communist or even revolutionary from descriptors of its government, Lao’s ruling Party of wealthy elites depends for its stability and power on hard line control. Premrudee Daoroung of TERRA, reported that at noisy consultative meetings in Thailand in 2010, the people of Pak Moon, radicalized by a devastating Thai dam, suggested they meet the potentially effected Lao people in order to warn them of its implications. “They and the other Thais were unanimous in their condemnation of the dam, causing the representatives of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to ask the organizers to silence them. The Thai organisers reminded the Lao officials that this consultation was demanded by MRC guidelines, and that in Thailand people can protest.”

The Lao people however were not consulted. Australia funded the consultations as part of its commitment to the Mekong River Commission, but the Australian embassy in Vientiane has been repeatedly vague and bureaucratic when asked about their reactions to this oversight.

The plethora of expensive cars and bizarre Mc Mansions in Asia’s Least Developed Country is evidence that someone is making money. Who makes it has not changed much since1995. A Lao lecturer in sociology recently confided that it was popular gossip around the National University that in order to secure a private sector contract one had to pay the relevant Minister five cars.

“Thai companies, such as Ch Karnchang are now expanding aggressively after Thai political problems and floods reduced local investment. The contract for the Xayaburi Dam hydropower plant, could be worth tens of billions of baht, and with the politicians and possibly even higher people involved, it is difficult to stop it. They are like elephants, they may stand for a while under a tree, but they will soon move again.” said Thai activist Pornthip Soumalee.

Witoon Pemlpongsacharoen Director of Bangkok based TERRA, suggested a few months ago, “The energy is not needed. Thailand has regular ‘power panics’ to the advantage of the Thai stock market who wish to keep investments flowing. Banks and financiers talk CSR and then fund bad projects where people don’t have rights.”

” Don’t forget that the construction company Ch Karnchang, its subsidiaries and the banks that back it, are all connected to big Thai families and the Democratic party.”

“Ch. Karnchang have just sold 2% to PPT owned by the Thai government, 10 % to another part of themselves and 12.5 % to EGCO, which means that Thai energy interests are sitting on both sides of the table,” he added.

Phillip Astelle, retired environmental economist said, “All other factors such as obvious impoverishment of people and the environment become economic externalities and burden shifting. The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) has clearly shown that people will be made significantly poorer by the dam, so all this talk by the Lao government about poverty reduction is duplicitous. They sacrifice the environment to provide electricity surplus and money to the already wealthy. Sayaboury will effectively be a non performing asset.”

“EGAT (Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand) and EGCO (Electricity Generating Public Company) bought shares in EDL (Electricité Du Laos) when it went public. There is no public participation in these deals even though there is blatant conflict of interest, as EGAT buys from its own companies.” Pemlpongsacharoen concluded.

But pro dam consultant William T Smith’s op-ed to the Bangkok Post earlier this year trashed environmental concerns, dismissing the views of luminaries like Carew Reid, and Richard Stone’s carefully articulated article inScience. Smith was part of the World bank team backing the socially devastating Nam Theun 2 dam. But it was his conclusion about river bank erosion that exposed elite thinking.

The photograph shows typical dam linked bank erosion downstream of Lao’s Theun Hinboun dam. Smith dismisses claims that the Sayaboury risks similar bank erosion, saying that what will be lost is insignificant. He is possibly correct. What he misses is the meaning that loss has to the farmer, whose labour is suddenly converted to slumped silt and whose family might be depending on the harvest and the cumulative effect of the accelerated siltation. There are no greengrocers in rural Lao, much less social security schemes. The land is all people have and as more is converted to dubious plantations, food security becomes an overriding concern. Smith’s view is typical of those whose life is defined by plane schedules and room service. An equivalent event for him may be to have his rolling office nicked in the airport toilet. Only a small loss in the scale of airport theft, but to him devastating.

Astelle went on. “As far as I know no one has done a study of downstream economic losses. For instance even if the erosion loss is one meter on either bank, we have to multiply that by the thousand odd kilometers of river length. The loss is not evenly spread. Some countries like Vietnam will be disproportionately effected by salinity. Will they demand the Lao government pay compensation?”

Shady Politics

The vast menu of environmental issues raised by this dam have converted the normally polite and paternalistic cross boundary politics into saber thrusts of approbation. Vietnam and Cambodia have been strongly opposed to the dam, fearing severe downstream consequences, while entertaining their own dam futures.

And What of Climate Change?

Vilakhorn Khomtavong an Australian based water engineer wrote: “I don’t think that the dams in Laos are built and operated scientifically. They see $$$!! (sic) and they go for it. They predict the dams to operate at its maximum level, (but) this cannot be done when they have limited data. The data they have are only a few years and they are not run-off data, but just rainfall data. Australia has 50-100 yrs of rainfall and some 50 yrs plus run-off data, and even they cannot get the flow rate accurate and they can’t factor in climate change.”

“Lao dams are built using the BOT method (Build Operate Transfer) The designer, who is part of the BOT scheme, upload their fees and make their money upfront. Anything after that is the cream for them. “

Being in breach of gazetted legal obligations is likely to expose Lao PDR to liability for damages to lower riparian countries resulting from the dam.

The Company you keep.

Around a major dam outside of Vientiane, the local residents are said to be selling up and moving, fearing cracks in the dam wall will worsen. The dam was built by Ch. Karnchang. If Karchanghas issues with quality control, it’s vitally important they fix them, as Sayaboury has experienced significant earth tremors in the last 12 months. In the Thai resort area of Rayong, three damaged reservoirs built on private golf course owned by Ch Karnchang, broke and flooded three villages in the area. A Buddhist nun almost drowned. Very bad karma indeed.

There are many questions about the probity of the principle contractors. Karnchang’s biggest share holder is an anonymous company called Mahasiri Siam who own 21.71%. Attempts to investigate Mahasiri Siam are meet with blank screens; and who owns a mystery 50.02% of shares in electricity company EGCO? And does withholding this information from public scrutiny breach the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s own regulations?

Climate Bottom Lines

Contrary to some claims, hydro dams are not carbon neutral and while hydro-power can, with due diligence, be cleaner than other energy sources, there is evidence that this dam’s construction site is encroaching on primary forest and of course the construction work itself is carbon intensive. It might be time to take a deep breath and consider if energy conservation might be a more considered path to energy proliferation, particularly in light of the electricity surplus.. The Portland and Mae Fah Luang University report suggests the need “to move beyond linear thinking to a more comprehensive basin wide .. approach” and further that Mekong nations could focus more on alternative renewable energy sources and place more emphasis on a well-being approach than standard economic growth being the focus. They then suggest that the governments responsible for dam development; in this case Laos, should be responsible for paying other nations for the loss of ecosystem services. By calculating those service costs to the Mekong Basin they converted a USD33 billion profit for all dams to a USD 274 billion debt. It is doubtful if Lao has been faced with these sobering economic realities.

Concern about the 40,000 Chinese dams currently needing rehabilitation or decommissioning should raise questions in Lao about the need for sinking funds for long term maintenance, and eventual destruction. The inability of the Lao Government to offer any logistic long term planning or contingency financing, offers grave concerns about the future of the Mekong, and the competence of the Lao government to do anything but realize short term profits.

Last Words

But the real politik comes from a highly connected Lao family who confided on the basis of strict confidentiality “He (Choummaly Sayasone, President of Lao PDR) gets big money (from Karnchang) He cannot pay it back as it (the money) is all spent. The dam will go ahead. He has a full time staff person whose job it is to convey his wishes to Cho Karnchang. If his daughter wants a laptop, it is there within days. The reason this will go ahead despite the opposition, is that the very top is getting the money.”

Melinda Boh is the nom de plume of a writer who lives in Jakarta.


© The National Forum and contributors 1999-2012. All rights reserved.

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No stopping flow of construction at ‘suspended’ dam

Bangkok Post, 9/18/2011.

DIGGING IN: A backhoe bulldozes trees at the dam construction site in Xayaburi.

Five months after Mekong countries agreed to reconsider the controversial US$3.8 billion (115.25 billion baht) Xayaburi dam project, construction work around the site has continued despite Laos’ undertaking to suspend the work.

Bangkok Post Sunday revisited the site and found construction of a major road leading to the dam site is 90% finished. Senior engineers, who asked to remain anonymous, said the road construction was nearly done.

The road is planned to run 30km from Ban Nara village, which is about 17km from Tha Dua pier, where access to Xayaburi province can be gained. The first 10km mountain section from Ban Nara village involves road upgrading. Heavy machinery, including backhoes, are working on the second section clearing earth and paving roads to the planned dam site.

Also: Q&A with dam official Click for More

19 November 2011

Please sign the petition urging the governments of Laos and Thailand to cancel the Xayaburi Dam

Dear Friends,

Over the past seven years, the majority of my time in the Mekong region has been spent in great awe of the Mekong River and the life, beauty and culture it supports. It’s a river of plenty – the Giant Mekong Catfish, mythical nagas that spew fireballs, and the endless green fields of rice that thrive off the river’s nourishment.

But the Mekong River and the millions of people it supports are now in jeopardy. In the next few months, regional governments will make a decision about whether to proceed with plans to build the Xayaburi Dam in northern Laos, the first of 11 dams planned for the Lower Mekong Mainstream.

In April, regional governments delayed a decision on the Xayaburi Dam, largely because of the huge public opposition from throughout the region and the world.

It’s critical that we again make our voices heard.

In the past few months Laos has been working hard to push the Xayaburi Dam forward, and illegal construction on access roads and work camps is continuing.

A healthy Mekong River is vital to the lives of millions in the Mekong Region. If the Xayaburi Dam is built it would open the floodgates for other Mainstream dams, which would irreversibly alter the entire river ecosystem.

We must act now to protect this vital lifesource for present and future generations. Please sign the petition urging the governments of Laos and Thailand to cancel the Xayaburi Dam.

For the Mekong and the millions that depend on it,

Ame Trandem,
Southeast Asia Program Director

International Rivers
2150 Allston Way, Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94704 USA
Tel.: +1 510 848 1155
www.internationalrivers.org

We must act now to protect this vital life source for present and future generations.

Please sign the petition below urging the governments of Laos and Thailand to cancel the Xayaburi Dam. Every additional signature makes the movement stronger.
Read the petition in:Khmer, Thai, Vietnamese and Lao

Sign the Petition

Giving the dam its due

Bangkok Post, 9/18/2011.

Thailand has agreed to take 95% of electricity from the 1,285-megawatt capacity plant, which is being jointly built by the Lao government and Thai construction firm CH Karnchang. The greatest opposition has come from Vietnam and Cambodia which have expressed concerns over potential damage to the ecosystem and the livelihoods of Mekong River communities.

In an exclusive report in April, the Bangkok Post Sunday reported that extensive road works for the Xayaburi dam had been under way for five months, although the project had not yet received formal approval from member states of the MRC, which has no punitive or veto powers against member states.  Click for More

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The mighty Mekong River flows through six nations — and many millions of people rely on it, directly and indirectly, for food and their livelihoods. But this region of the world also urgently needs energy to power economic development. For the Mekong countries it presents a difficult choice: building hydro-electric dams on the Mekong will risk profound changes to a major ecosystem. Thitarat Sriwattanapong is researching the future of the Mekong River and understands better than most, the dilemmas that dam projects on the river pose to the ambitions of the region. To see the full film go to: www.open.ac.uk/openlearn/earthreporters

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Ch Karnchang sees way clear for Xayaburi dam and hopes to sign construction and power purchase contracts for the 110 billion baht project within 30 days

Ch Karnchang (CK), hopes to sign construction and power purchase contracts for the 110 billion baht project within 30 days.

CK’s Chief Executive Plew Trivisvavet said the Lao government has already decided to build the dam, and brushed aside speculation the project could be scrapped amid concerns voiced by other countries in the region about the potential impact on the Mekong River ecosystem.

“We expect to receive an official notification from the Lao government within one to two weeks to carry on with the project,” he said at CK’s annual shareholders meeting yesterday.

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) has expressed concerns about the possible environmental effects of the Xayaburi project, but acknowledges that the final decision will be made by Laos.  More

Press Release: Lao Disagrees with Neighbors on Xayaburi Dam

For immediate release

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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Lao Disagrees with Neighbors on Xayaburi Dam

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Decision Delay a Temporary Reprieve for Mekong River

Bangkok, Thailand: Government representatives from the four lower Mekong Basin countries agreed today that the decision on the Xayaburi Dam, the first dam proposed for the lower Mekong mainstream, be deferred and elevated to the Ministerial level. According to a press release from the Mekong River Commission (MRC), whilst Lao PDR proposed to proceed with the dam, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam called for an extension to the decision-making process citing concerns about transboundary impacts and knowledge gaps that require both further study and public consultation.

“Today the Mekong River has gotten a much-needed but temporary reprieve. The Mekong River is a valuable shared resource, and the Xayaburi dam’s transboundary impacts require agreement between the region’s governments and the public” said Ms. Ame Trandem, Mekong Campaigner with International Rivers. “A healthy Mekong River is central to sustainable development in the region, and simply too precious a resource to squander. Given the project’s inevitable transboundary impacts we urge the region’s governments to acknowledge the widespread concern of the public and civil society groups and indefinitely cancel the Xayaburi Dam project.”

“Given this decision and the scandalous exposé on Sunday that preliminary construction activities have already begun on the Xayaburi Dam, it is absolutely imperative that all construction activities are halted immediately and staff and equipment withdrawn from the site,” said Ms. Pianporn Deetes, Mekong Campaigner with International Rivers.

The Xayaburi Dam, if built, would forcibly resettle over 2,100 people and directly affect over 202,000 people, and could threaten the extinction of approximately 41 fish species, including the critically endangered Mekong Giant Catfish.  An additional 23 to 100 migratory fish species would be threatened through a blocked fish migration route. These impacts in turn will affect the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in the region.

“This delay is an acknowledgement of the dam’s far-reaching ramifications for the Mekong River ecosystem and millions of people in the region.  We expect the Lao government to respect the decision of the MRC Joint Committee,” said Chhith Sam Ath from NGO Forum on Cambodia, a Cambodian NGO.  “We hope the governments of the region have recognized that much more needs to be understood about the river and its rich fisheries before a rash decision is made that could threaten the integrity of the entire ecosystem and the livelihoods of millions of people” said Nguy Thi Khanh from WARECOD, a Vietnamese NGO.

The project has been subject to intense criticism regionally and internationally. Numerous fisheries experts and other scientists who recently reviewed the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment agreed that it is sub-standard and insufficient to accurately determine the project’s impacts, let alone stand a chance of mitigating them. Furthermore, the MRC Secretariat’s own Technical Review highlighted the grave environmental and social harms associated with the project, and also identified considerable knowledge gaps that remain and require comprehensive study. Fisheries scientists unanimously agree that the dam’s impacts on fisheries cannot be mitigated and that a proposed fish ladder will be ineffective.

“We are happy to hear that the project has been delayed, but we will continue to fight for our Mother Mekong and for the health of the river’s fisheries, which provides so much to so many people in this region. We will continue to push the Thai government to cancel the agreement to buy power from the Xayaburi Dam,” said Jirasak Inthayos from Chiang Khong District, Chiang Rai Province, who joined a protest in Bangkok today against the Xayaburi Dam.

Widespread public opposition to the dam has been expressed both regionally and internationally over the past two years through various petitions and letters submitted to the regional governments and MRC. Yesterday, a letter from nearly 10,000 Thai villagers from eight provinces was submitted to the Lao Embassy in Bangkok and the Thai Prime Minister raising concerns about the project’s transboundary impacts and calling on the Lao and Thai governments to cancel the Xayaburi Dam. A petition signed by more than 2,300 people from around the world calling for the cancellation of the Xayaburi Dam was also presented to members of the MRC’s Council yesterday.  An earlier Save the Mekong petition of 23,110 signatures was submitted to the region’s Prime Ministers in October 2009, and in March 2011 a letter from 263 non-governmental organizations to the Prime Ministers of Lao PDR and Thailand also called for the cancellation of the Xayaburi Dam.

The Mekong River is central to the lives and culture of mainland Southeast Asia. As the world’s largest inland freshwater fishery, the Mekong River feeds millions of people throughout the region, and the river’s extraordinary aquatic biodiversity is second only to the Amazon. The Xayaburi Dam is the first of eleven large dams proposed for the lower Mekong River’s mainstream.

More information:

  • Photographs are available on request

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Contacts:

International Rivers, 2150 Allston Way, Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94704, USA
Tel:             +1 510 848 1155       | Fax: +1 510 848 1008 | info@internationalrivers.org | www.internationalrivers.org

Help Us Save The Mekong

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Demand Cancellation of the Xayaburi Dam

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Dear Friends,

I’m writing to you today with a very special request. For more than 15 years, I have been working to protect the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. But today this magnificent river – known as the “Mother of all Rivers” – is facing its greatest threat ever.

Your letter will be emailed to the Mekong River Commission’s Council, comprised of Ministers from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and hard copies of all the signatures will be presented to each of the governments on Monday, April 18th, 2011.

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Can you take action today to protect the Mekong River?
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Link to:  http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2486/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6507
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Fishing on the Mekong River: The Xayaburi Dam Threatens 41 Fish Species with ExtinctionNext week, the governments of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam will meet to decide whether to build the first dam on the lower Mekong mainstream – the Xayaburi Dam.  This dam would devastate the river’s rich fisheries and directly impact hundreds of thousands of people.

Scientists from around the world agree that dams on the lower Mekong mainstream would sound a deathknell for the Mekong river’s rich biodiversity, impacting millions of people. The region’s governments are divided about whether to approve the Xayaburi Dam or not – and your voice can make a difference. Let’s send them a message today letting them know that the citizens of the world care about the Mekong River.

Please take action today to keep the Mekong River flowing freely.

Thank you for joining me in protecting a river that is very close to my heart.

For people, water and life,

Aviva Imhof, Interim Executive DirectorAviva Imhof
Interim Executive Director

International Rivers
2150 Allston Way, Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94704 USA
Tel.: +1 510 848 1155
www.internationalrivers.org
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  • Dam Construction Is Set to Destroy the ‘Mother of all Rivers’
    • For the sake of the Mekong River and its inhabitants, we must hope that reason prevails when the governments meet next week, and that the decision-makers look beyond their own short political lives and into a future in which a healthy, undammed Mekong continues to provide for generations to come. Their grandchildren will thank them.  More

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On 19 April, the project’s future will be decided. It is slated for construction in a remote area in northern Laos and is expected to provide power to Thailand. Environmentalists and Vietnamese authorities oppose the plan; 263 NGOs from 51 different nations are also against it because it could damage plant and animal life and jeopardise Vietnam’s rice production.  More

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Laos is a place of remarkable beauty, world-renowned biodiversity and abundant natural resources. The country is traversed by a thousand rivers that teem with life: people fishing, gardening and washing clothes; children swimming, laughing and playing; and water buffalo wading in the mud. This vast Lao river network also plays an essential role in the Mekong Basin, contributing 35 percent of the Mekong River’s flow.  More

Impacts of the Xayaburi hydropower dam planned for northern Laos are unclear as the proposal is poorly researched, says a technical report to the Mekong River Commission.  Laos’ studies of the project, the experts’ report said, are incomplete, with crucial gaps in knowledge needed to understand its potential impact. Without that information, an accurate assessment of the implications could not be reached.  More

The $3.5 billion Xayaburi dam is slated for the wilds of northern Laos and would generate power mostly for sale to Thailand. The project pits villagers, activists and the Vietnamese media against Thai interests and the Laotian government in its hopes of earning foreign exchange in one of the world’s poorest countries.  A decision on whether the dam gets the green light, is axed or deferred for further studies is expected April 19 during a meeting in the Laotian capital among Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.  More

The Mekong River is one of the world’s last large rivers remaining mostly undammed. But China is constructing a series of eight hydropower projects on the upper Mekong. Although there are currently no dams across the mainstream channel (not including the tributaries) in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB), nevertheless, in September 2010, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic petitioned the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to begin the formal process of approving the first of 11 proposed dams across the lower Mekong (see the figure) (1). Although such a cascade would provide substantial power, it would likely reduce biodiversity and ecosystem service values of the LMB, while undercutting the livelihood and food security of millions of people. Decisions on this initial proposal expected over the coming months by the MRC countries may contribute to promoting high-impact hydropower development or to a movement toward integrated, transboundary river-basin management that could serve as a model for other rivers.  More

Some 400 people in the northern and northeastern provinces along the mekong River gathered Tuesday in Nong Khai’s Sri Chiang Mai district to oppose Laos’s proposed Xayaburi hydropower project as they feared of negative impact on their lives.  More

Bankgkok, Thailand – 263 non-governmental organizations from 51 countries submitted a letter yesterday urging the Prime Ministers of Lao PDR and Thailand to immediately cancel the proposed Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River’s mainstream in Northern Laos.  More

Environmentalists say the years of protests and protracted battles over the disastrous dam across the Moon River in Isaan could be magnified many times over if the Thai building firm Ch Karnchang is allowed to build the highly controversial Xayaburi Dam across the mainstream of the mekong in Laos just a short distance south of Luang Prabang.  More

The Mekong’s strong currents and scenic rapids in the remote province of Xayaburi in Northern Laos are important spawning grounds of several important migratory fish species, including the critically endangered Mekong Giant Catfish. This riverine cornucopia is now at risk. Since 2007, Ch. Kamchang, a large Thai construction company, has been planning to build the massive Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong’s Kaeng Luang rapids.  More

The newly proposed Xayaburi Dam in northern Laos is the first of 11 proposed dams planned for construction on the lower Mekong River. Nine dams are planned for Laos, and two others are slated for Cambodia.

The Xayaburi Dam will take eight years to complete and cost an estimated $3.5 billion. It will generate 1,260 megawatts of electricity, most of which will be sold to Thailand.  More


Khone Phapheng, The world’s widest waterfall in Laos

  • 101 East – Laos dams: powering the future-13Aug09-Pt1

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