Posts tagged ‘cambodia’

June 28, 2014

Effects of Laos dam project to be revealed

 

Laos takes ‘courteous’ approach to next Mekong dam project, agrees to consult before work starts

Reuters

June 28, 2014

Updated 2 hours 31 minutes ago

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-28/laos-dam/5557196

Fishing at rapids in the Siphandone area of the Mekong River in Laos

Fishing at rapids in Siphandone area, site of proposed Don Sahong hydro-electric dam.  Photo: International Rivers

Laos has agreed to consult its neighbours before starting construction of a second controversial dam on the Mekong River.

It’s already going ahead with the much bigger Xayaburi dam to supply power to China, despite opposition from Vietnam and Cambodia.

Agreement to allow environmental assessments and for a formal consultation process on the proposed Don Sahong dam was reached at a meeting of the Mekong River Commission in Bangkok.

The commission comprises Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Laos accepted environmental and other studies for the Xayaburi dam after pressure from its neighbours, but went ahead with construction even while they were being conducted.

But this time Vientiane has given an assurance work will not start during the six-month consultation process, describing the move as a “courtesy”.

The Don Sahong project is the second of 11 hydroelectric dams planned for the Mekong mainstream, which has raised concerns about the impact on the environment and livelihoods of millions of people.

It will generate 260 megawatts of electricity, mainly for export to Thailand and Cambodia compared with Xayaburi’s 1,260 megawatts, around 95 percent of which will go to Thailand.

The environmental group International Rivers is among those to have welcomed the decision.

But it says further action is needed “to ensure that the rapid progress of dam building on the Mekong … does not go unchecked”.

Officials say recommendations resulting from the studies of the Don Sahong project would not be binding on Laos.

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Effects of Laos dam project to be revealed

Posted on 27 June 2014

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://wwf.panda.org/?224398/Effects-of-Laos-dam-project-to-be-revealed

Two Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins spotted at Tbong Kla deep pool
© WWF- Cambodia/ Gerad Ryan

WWF welcomes the Lao Government’s decision to have the Don Sahong hydropower project undergo a formal consultation process, a decision likely to delay construction of the project.

The consultation process requires Laos to hold inter-governmental consultations before proceeding with the dam, and conduct and share studies on the project’s environmental and the social impacts. The process will take at least six months to complete.

“Laos is now promising to do what they already signed up to under the Mekong agreement, and should have done months ago” said Marc Goichot, WWF-Greater Mekong’s lead on sustainable hydropower. “Their decision to consult on the Don Sahong project, and share critical details about the project’s impacts, comes after intense pressure from neighbouring countries. It is critical that pressure is maintained to ensure Laos delivers on their promise.”

In September last year, Laos announced its decision to proceed with the Don Sahong dam, bypassing the Mekong River Commision’s (MRC) consultation process.

The much-criticised project was discussed at the June 26-27 meeting of the MRC – an inter-governmental agency made up of representatives from the four Lower Mekong nations — Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Don Sahong dam threatens the Mekong’s critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migration, putting the world’s largest inland fishery at risk. Close to 200,000 people have signed WWF’s petition calling on the dam builder, Mega First, to pull out of the project.

“We thank people around the world who signed the WWF’s petition to stop the Don Sahong dam,” added Goichot. “Mega First would do well to listen to the growing voices of opposition to this disastrous project and reconsider their engagement.”

The Don Sahong dam is the second dam on the Lower Mekong mainstem, following the controversial Xayaburi dam that Laos has begun constructing despite opposition from neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam.

“The Mekong River Commission’s joint decision-making process was effectively broken in 2012 when Laos decided unilaterally to proceed with Xayaburi dam, against the express wishes of Vietnam and Cambodia,” added Goichot.

“There is currently little faith in the MRC’s process to ensure joint decisions are made for the benefit of all Mekong nations. If Laos fails to be held to account, the MRC will soon lose its legitimacy and 60 million people living in the Mekong basin will suffer.”

Crowd of children with Pra or River catfish (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus). River catfish are closely related to the Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas), a critically endangered Mekong endemic specieis. The Mekong giant catfish migrates from the Tonle Sap Lake to the Mekong River at the end of the rainy season each year and a dam like Don Sahong would block their migration.
© Zeb Hogan / WWF-Canon

 

 

April 14, 2014

Mekong hydropower dams: Laos considering, Vietnam needs “quick reactions”

 

Mekong hydropower dams: Laos considering, Vietnam needs “quick reactions”

VietNamNet Bridge – Laos promises to consult with experts and consider the construction of hydropower dams on Mekong River is the good news for Vietnam. However, scientists say Vietnam needs to act promptly to take full advantage of its opportunities.

 

Mekong hydropower dams, mekong river, laos, vietnam

 

The comment was made by Nguyen Viet Dung, Deputy Director of PanNature, a Vietnamese not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting and conserving diversity of life and improving human well-being.

Dung believes that what needs to be done immediately is to provide reports on the possible impacts of the hydropower dams on the Mekong’s lower course. The reports, with convincing arguments and figures, need to be provided to Laos as soon as possible, so that the country can fully consider the pros and cons of its proposed hydropower plant project.

Quick, quicker

The second summit of the International Mekong River Commission has ended with a satisfactory outcome. Vietnam suggested setting up a research team, with the presence of representatives of Laos and Cambodia, which would be charged with analyzing the possible impacts of the hydropower plants on Mekong.

Vietnam, at the summit, proposed that Laos waits for Vietnam’s research work to reach a conclusion before it decides whether to move ahead with its project. The research is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ha Kim Ngoc said that Laos has promised to thoroughly consider the possible negative impacts shown by Vietnam and Cambodia.

Dung, applauding Lao goodwill, has urged Vietnamese scientists to carry out the research and make public the result of the research to confirm the dangers to the people in the Mekong’s lower course.

“This would be really a big challenge for Vietnamese researchers, who need to clarify what are the impacts to be caused by hydropower dams and what are the impacts to be caused by other factors,” Dung commented.

“Only by clarifying the issues, will Vietnam be able to convince Laos and involved parties,” he said.

How to make the research outcome recognized?

However, worries still exist. A scientist said the next question is whether the conclusions reached by the research team will be accepted by Laos and the involved parties. And even if they agree on the conclusions of the researchers, will they be cooperative and adjust their plans accordingly?

Dung, agreeing with the opinion, stressed that the research must be conducted with the active participation of representatives from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand as well.

Recent surveys have all shown that Mekong’s basin is one of the five largest river basins in the world to be witnessing the sharpest decline in flow. The annual flow of the Mekong in the lower course has declined by 10 percent over the last 30 years.

The Mekong river section running across Vientiane in Laos has become so depleted that people can cross the river on foot in the dry season. In the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, salt water has invaded the Tan Chau area of An Giang Province, something which never happened in the past.

Mekong has been playing a very important role in Vietnam’s socio-economic development. The Mekong Delta, with an area of 40,000 square kilometers, is home to 20 million people. Its products make up 27 percent of Vietnam’s GDP, and it provides 90 percent of the nation’s rice exports and 60 percent of its seafood export turnover.

Thien Nhien

April 14, 2014

Mekong River at risk as Laos forges ahead with dam-building spree

Vietnam latest news - Thanh Nien Daily

 

Mekong River at risk as Laos forges ahead with dam-building spree 

Monday, April 14, 2014 16:35
The Challenge Program on Water and Food- (CPWF) Mekong dams database provides the locations of every known commissioned, under-construction and planned dam in the Mekong River Basin
Construction of a giant controversial dam in Laos has been well underway since it began in late 2012. Laos is also set to push ahead with a second hydropower dam on the Mekong River this year in the face of growing concerns among its neighbors.
Opponents of these projects said their commencement would also kick off the construction of the 9 other dams planned by Laos on the lower reaches of the 4,900-kilometer (3,045-mile)-long Mekong, which is second only to the Amazon in terms of biodiversity. The river begins in the Tibetan plateau and flows through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.
Regional leaders have continued to beat the drum of safeguarding the mighty river, but in reality, the rhetoric has been more prominent than action, environmental activists say.
They say that although it is still not too late to put a brake on the damming frenzy and devise a plan to promote the sustainable development of the Mekong, success in doing so would hinge on the political will of governments to make scientifically sound decisions before forging ahead with any more dam construction.
But apparently, “powerful commercial interests have been allowed to ransack the Mekong River’s rich resources by building damaging hydropower dams which have yet to demonstrate proven and effective mitigation measures,” said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Campaign Coordinator for International Rivers, a California-based environmental group.
In November 2012, Laos broke ground on the US$3.8-billion Xayaburi dam project despite vehement objections from environmental groups and its neighbors who said the 810-meter (2,600ft) dam would unleash massive ecological changes on a river that feeds around 60 million people.
A technical review released in March 2011 by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) – a regional body established to coordinate dam projects on the river – on the Xayaburi dam is considered the most comprehensive analysis of its potential impact. It warns that more than 50 studies are still required before regional governments reach a consensus over whether the Xayaburi and other Mekong mainstream dams should be built.
But last September, Laos notified the MRC that it would forge ahead with the second dam, the Don Sahong, on the lower Mekong, despite calls from foreign donors to consult neighbors that face a trans-boundary impact on fisheries and the risk of deprived livelihoods.
A regional summit that ended recently in Vietnam dismayed environmental activists who had hoped for tougher stance against the dam-building binge.
“While [we are] pleased that Mekong leaders recognize the negative environmental and social impacts that hydropower development poses to the mainstream, we are disappointed that leaders did not condemn the current rush of dam building on the Mekong mainstream,” Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia program director for International Rivers, said in a statement issued after the Mekong River Commission summit wrapped up April 5 in Ho Chi Minh City.
“Words without actions are meaningless,” Trandem said. “The Lao government must stop its free reign of Mekong mainstream dam building.”
Business as usual
Viraphonh Viravong, Laos’s deputy energy minister, confirmed to Thanh Nien News that the Xayaburi project is now around 30 percent complete and construction on the Don Sahong dam would begin at a site less than 2 km away from the Cambodian border in December this year.
Landlocked Laos, looking to become the “battery of Southeast Asia” by exporting the vast majority of its power – mostly to Thailand, has promoted the Xayaburi dam as a potential source of income and investment that will spur its small economy.
“The Lao government sees hydropower as something of a silver bullet to lift the country out of poverty and genuinely believes there is no alternative,” Philip Hirsch, director of the Australian Mekong Resource Center at the University of Sydney, told Thanh Nien News.
But given that the power to be produced by the 260-megawatt Don Sahong dam is quite small, experts say an important question, in this context, is which are the more and less damaging sites for dam construction.
“Building a dam that blocks the major fish migration route in the model of one of the world’s most significant artisanal freshwater fisheries does not seem like a very sensible priority,” Hirsch said.
Environmental groups warn that the impacts posed by the Don Sahong dam bring a new level of risk to the biodiversity of the Mekong River, threatening to block the only channel of the Mekong that currently allows for year-round fish migrations on a large scale, while also wiping out one of the last pools of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.
Viraphonh shrugged off such concerns.
“We are very confident that there will be no significant impact on the downstream of the river,” Viraphonh said, adding that Laos hired a number of independent experts to review the feasibility studies on these dam projects.
But those in the opposing camp do not buy into this assurance.
They say these claims are based on models which have never been tested in the Mekong, and there are doubts as to whether they could be successful on such a large scale.
“The stakes are high and continuing to build Mekong dams through a trial and error approach is reckless and irresponsible,” Trandem of International Rivers said. “The Mekong is too valuable for risky experiments.”
‘Right to develop’
Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia are bound by a 1995 Mekong treaty to hold inter-governmental consultations before building dams. But none has a veto, and Laos will have the final say, though considerable diplomatic pressure can be exerted on it.
Laos and its neighbors – particularly Vietnam and Cambodia – have been at odds over the decision-making stage, or the prior consultation process, of the Don Sahong project.
While Laos maintains it only needs to notify its neighbors of its intent to build the dam because it is located neither in the tributary nor on the mainstream of the Mekong, the other two countries demand that the consultation process take place to decide over whether to build the dam, citing its trans-boundary impacts.
Vietnam and Cambodia reiterated their position at the Mekong River Commission summit on April 5.
Viraphonh, the Lao energy official, bristled at criticism that his country has provided no information to its neighbors about how it plans to address the serious impacts that experts expect to see on important migratory fishes species, saying Laos has nothing to hide.
He maintained that for a small project like Don Sahong, only notification would be needed. But, more importantly, he stressed that “Laos [also] needs to develop and for the right to develop, [we] don’t need a consensus or agreement [to go ahead].”
A Cambodian fisherman who lives by the Mekong River casts his net outside Phnom Penh. Regional leaders have continued to beat the drum of safeguarding the mighty Mekong River, but in reality, the rhetoric has been more prominent than action, environmental activists say. Photo: Reuters 
Muddy the Mekong water
Addressing an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Russia in 2012, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang called for sustainable exploitation of the Mekong River, saying nations could soon get embroiled in conflicts over access to water.
“It would not be over-exaggerating… to view the water resources of the 21st century as the oil of the 19th and 20th centuries,” Sang said.
Environmental activists say Laos’s “unilateral” move to plow ahead with the construction of two controversial dams highlights the urgency to give the 1995 Mekong Agreement more teeth.
“Because the [treaty] and its procedures are riddled with ambiguities, the Mekong River faces a dangerous trajectory, in which unilateral interests are hijacking regional cooperation and well-being,” said Pianporn of International Rivers.
Meanwhile, experts have lamented that China’s dam-building spree in both Southeast Asia – in Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar – and at home is threatening to have a serious impact on the lower Mekong.
International Rivers, a US-based nonprofit group that works to protect rivers, has been collecting information on China’s global role in dam building since 2008.
In Southeast Asia alone, it said, the number of Chinese dams that are under construction or are proposed include 10 in Cambodia, 26 in Laos, and 55 in Myanmar. Of them, four are to be built on the mainstream Mekong – three in Laos and one in Cambodia.
In the meantime, China’s upstream dams continue to cause worry due to the lack of information about their water flows, development plans, cumulative environmental impacts, and trans-boundary impacts. China has constructed or planned to build a total of 13 dams on the cascade.
Given the scale and size of these dams, experts say there are certainly other environmental impacts like withholding sediment and changed flow volumes and quantity on the lower Mekong.
They also say there are well-grounded fears that China could capitalize on the lack of political agreement there to gain a lot when taking into account dam development activities in the lower Mekong.
“China itself doesn’t need the power but stands to gain in two ways: First, work for Chinese dam-building and engineering companies,” said Richard Cronin, director of the Southeast Asia program at Stimson Center, a US-based research institute.
“Second, China gains a lot of political influence,” Cronin said. “China has already largely displaced Vietnam’s former influence.”

 

An Dien
Thanh Nien News

April 3, 2014

Environment Groups Plan to Oppose Laos Mega Dams

Environment Groups Plan to Oppose Laos Mega Dams

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.voanews.com/content/environment-groups-plan-to-oppose-laos-mega-dams/1882888.html

Gabrielle Paluch

April 3rd 2014

FILE – Ethnic Vietnamese fishermen collect catches from the Mekong river near Arey Ksat village at the outskirt of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Feb. 6, 2014.

Ahead of this week’s meeting of the Mekong River Commission, 39 international environmental groups called on the government to halt construction on the Xayaburi dam before February 2015.  The declaration also called on the government of Thailand to cancel its agreement to buy electricity generated by the dam.

The Xayaburi is the first of 11 proposed dams to be built on the Lower Mekong River. The $3.8 billion, Thai-financed dam is intended primarily to produce electricity for the Thai market. Officials from countries in the region have been regularly meeting to discuss the planned dams, and review assessments of their environmental impact on a river basin that is a critical food source for some 60 million people.

The World Wildlife Fund’s Marc Goichot, who is a regional expert on hydropower says more time is still needed to review these projects.

“The Xayaburi project will only contribute about 2% to the demand of Thailand and the demand of Thailand doesn’t really need the project until 2026, so there’s no rush,” said Goichot. “The suspension of this power-purchasing agreement will give time to all parties to study the impact.”

Construction has already begun on the Xayaburi dam, despite objections voiced by downstream countries Vietnam and Cambodia. Activists now hope they can stop the project before a coffer dam is built next February, which would divert water to allow construction of the main dam on the riverbed. The World Wildlife Fund says this would be the first step in the construction process to cause major irreversible damage to the river’s ecosystem.

The Mekong Agreement, signed by Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in 1995, precludes construction from going forward without mutual consent from other governments.

An initial assessment of the environmental impact was said to fall short of international standards, and further impact assessments are ongoing. At the MRC’s last summit, the governments of Vietnam and Cambodia requested that construction be halted for 10 years, or until the impact can be accurately assessed.

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March 31, 2014

Mekong Dams: Opposition Grows to Laos’ Mega Dams Ahead of Summit

(The Cambodia Daily (subscription))

Opposition Grows to Laos’ Mega Dams Ahead of Summit

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:   http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/opposition-grows-to-laos-mega-dams-ahead-of-summit-55246/
By and | March 31, 2014

Protesters take to the Mekong River in Stung Treng province on Saturday to demand a halt to Laos’Don Sahong dam project, which they say will impact the livelihoods of people living along the river. (Lyda Ngin)

Leading conservation groups on Sunday issued a joint declaration opposing the construction of Laos’ controversial Xayaburi hydropower dam as communities in northeastern Cambodia staged protests on Saturday against the project, which experts say could harm millions of people living downstream.

The joint declaration, signed by 39 environmental groups, comes ahead of this week’s Mekong River Commission (MRC) summit in Ho Chi Minh City during which high-level delegations from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand will address the impact of dam development on the Lower Mekong region.

The Xayaburi dam is the first of 10 proposed dams on the mainstream Lower Mekong River and the Lao government, despite fierce resistance from Cambodia and Vietnam, has pushed ahead with its development, making it a test case for the MRC’s goal of achieving regional consensus before dam-building goes ahead.

“[T]he Xayaburi hydropower project in Lao PDR is one of the potentially most damaging dams currently under construction anywhere in the world” and “constitutes the greatest trans-boundary threat to date to food security, sustainable development and regional cooperation in the Lower Mekong River basin,” the declaration says.

Amid mounting evidence that the dam will cause irreversible damage to biodiversity, fish stocks and human livelihoods, the signatories have set a one-year deadline to achieve a halt on construction so that the MRC’s study on the potential long-term effects of large-scale dams can be completed.

“The Mekong Summit is the critical moment for Cambodia and Vietnam to take a strong stance and make their concerns heard loud and clear before it is too late,” Kraisak Choonhavan, former chairman of Thailand’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said in the statement.

The groups are also calling on Thailand to pressure Laos by pulling out of its agreement to purchase most of the electricity generated by the Xayaburi dam, and asking the consortium of six Thai banks financing its construction to reconsider the effect on their reputations of bankrolling a potentially devastating project.

Laos has also announced that a second mainstream dam, the 256-MW Don Sahong dam—just 1.5 km from the Cambodian border —will also go ahead without regional consultation, despite the fact that studies have shown it threatens the entire ecosystem of the Lower Mainstream Mekong by blocking the only channel in southern Laos that allows year-round fish migration.

Communities Take to the River

On Saturday, more than 200 protesters in Stung Treng province took to the Mekong River in boats to draw attention to the danger the Don Sahong dam presents to local communities and wildlife, such as the critically endangered Mekong River dolphin.

Villagers—including students and local officials—gathered at Preah Romkil pagoda in Thal Borivat district at 8 a.m. and traveled by boat to an area of the river inhabited by the dolphins, according to Vong Kosal, a legal officer for NGO Forum, which last week drafted a petition calling for the immediate halt of the dam.

“We are collecting thumbprints from all participants and will send them to the [Cambodian] government to convey our concerns with the other heads of states at [MRC] summit in Vietnam,” Mr. Kosal said.

A separate protest on Saturday in Kratie province saw another 200 people board 42 boats in Sambor district for a seven-hour journey to raise alarm among communities living along the Mekong River.

“We have prepared an open letter and will send our message to the four countries attending the summit to stop construction of the [Don Sahong] project,” said Sam Sovann, executive director of the Northeastern Rural Development Organization.

Elsewhere, Some 200 ethnic Chong villagers in Koh Kong province’s Areng Valley will today submit a petition to the provincial government office as part of an ongoing protest against the imminent construction of the Stung Chhay Areng dam.

Development of the dam by Chinese company Sinohydro (Cambodia) United Ltd., local environmental groups argue, will lead to hundreds of evictions and require the flooding of thousands of hectares of land, including areas of the Cardamom Protected Forest considered sacred to the Chong.

“The villagers want the general public to know that their ancestral land is threatened by the development of this dam,” said Ing Kongcheth, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho.

“They want the dam project canceled—the damage it will cause if it goes ahead is huge.”

(Additional reporting by Hul Reaksmey)

pheap@cambodiadaily.com, henderson@cambodiadaily.com

© 2014, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved.

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Hundreds protest Laos dam

Yin Vuth, one of hundreds of Cambodians who protested against the Don Sahong dam over the weekend, said that if construction on the project in Laos goes ahead, the fish will disappear, and once the fish disappear, the dolphins will be next. “All we will …

Environmental groups oppose controversial Laos dam on eve of regional summit

Nevertheless, Laos is marching ahead with construction without agreement among its neighbors,” said Kraisak Choonhavan, leading environmental activist and former chairman of Thailand’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. “The Xayaburi project severely …

Environment Groups Plan to Oppose Laos Mega Dams

BANGKOK, THAILAND — This week officials from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand will meet to discuss the impact of planned hydropower dams on the lower Mekong region. But several environmental groups have already concluded the main …
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