View 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.
They say Laos’ commitment to study further the environmental impact assessment report on the dam, in the face of stiff regional opposition to the project, is no guarantee that environmental impacts on the trans-boundary Mekong River can be minimized.
Laos should scrap the project instead, they said.
Laos has offered to further study the EIA after the three Mekong countries which stand to be affected by the Xayaburi dam’s construction – Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam – raised objections to the conclusions.
Laos has also decided to postpone work on the dam, pending the outcome of the study.
Hanarong Yaowaloes, chairman of Thai-Water Partnerships, an environmental group, said the EIA study done by Ch Karnchang Public Company Limited, a construction giant which is undertaking the joint venture project, was unable to answer environmentalists’ concerns.
The study failed to say how the dam would affect the livelihoods of millions of people living along the river, Mr Hanarong said.
“The project should be scrapped. Laos wants to study the EIA further just to draw out the process,” he said.
Meanwhile, Birgit Vogel, chief technical adviser of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), said many concerns have been raised about the EIA report on the Xayaburi dam, especially the impact on fish migration and sediment transport.
The MRC suggested more work was needed to mitigate the environmental impacts on fish, and management of sediment flow, Ms Vogel said.
Ms Vogel was speaking at a public lecture yesterday on Mekong River dams at Chulalongkorn University.
She said the MRC’s fisheries experts found that the dam could affect 23 to 100 threatened fish species, as some 39% of migrant fish would be blocked by the dam.
That could lead to a 6% drop in the 2.5 tonnes of fish caught from the river each year.
The MRC’s sediment expert group expected the reservoir would lose about 60% of its capacity due to poor sediment management within 30 years.
She believed the issue will be raised again at the Mekong region’s ministerial meeting in October or November this year.
Richard Cronin, senior associate of the Henry L Stimson Center in Washington DC, closely monitors the Mekong region.
He said Laos has the right to build the Xayaburi dam but it should not disregard the concerns of neighbouring countries.
Mr Cronin said the project’s suspension would give Laos the chance to carefully scrutinise the impact on the environment and livelihood of people along the river.
“Laos has nothing to export except natural resources,” Mr Cronin said.
“It can earn big money from the sale of electricity from the hydro dam to Thailand, Vietnam and China.”
About the author
- Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
- Position: Reporter
Help Us Save The Mekong
View Original Source: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL3E7G53BM20110505?sp=true
Thu May 5, 2011 2:28pm GMT
HANOI May 5 (Reuters) – Communist Laos called on Thursday for trust on a controversial dam across the lower Mekong river that has sparked strong opposition from its neighbours and environmental groups.
In a rare direct comment from the secretive country, Khempheng Pholsena, chairwoman of the Laos National Mekong Committee and a government minister, said the Xayaburi Dam would be “socially and environmentally sustainable”.
“Trust Laos,” she told reporters in Hanoi on the sidelines of an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank.
“We take the concern seriously. Please give us time,” she added. Plans for the dam have put Laos on a collision course with its neighbours and environmentalists who fear livelihoods, fish species and farmland could be destroyed, potentially sparking a food crisis.
Last month the four countries that share the lower stretches of the 4,900 km (3,044 mile) Mekong — Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam — failed at a meeting to reach agreement on construction of the 1.285-megawatt (MW) dam, the first of 11 planned in the lower Mekong that are expected to generate 8 percent of Southeast Asia’s power by 2025.
Vietnam, which has long been the closest ally Laos has, last month asked it to delay the $3.5 million project by 10 years.
The Lao government has hailed Xayaburi as a model for clean, green energy that will stimulate its tiny $6 billion economy and improve the lives of its 5.9 million people, over a quarter of whom live below the poverty line, many without electricity.
Its energy-hungry neighbour, Thailand, will buy about 95 percent of the power generated by the dam and three Thai firms have a stake in the project, according to an announcement on Thailand’s stock exchange last month.
Pholsena said Laos had faced opposition to another dam project, the Nam Theun hydropower plant, but had laid concerns to rest, and would do the same again.
Laos needed to be “strong and stand on its own feet”, she said.
(Reporting by Tran Le Thuy; Editing by John Ruwitch and Robert Birsel)
© Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
Help Us Save The Mekong
Ame Trandem, the Bangkok-based representative for International Rivers, described the dam’s EIA report – released just three weeks ago – as “abysmal” and “totally inadequate”.
“It lacks basic yet critical technical information, is riddled with analytical flaws and fails to consider transboundary impacts, despite other MRC-commissioned reports demonstrating that the dam’s high environmental and social impacts will be irreversible and will be felt basin-wide. Given the quality of the EIA and the anticipated impacts, if this project were to go ahead it would be unimaginably irresponsible.” More
An investigation by the Bangkok Post Sunday which visited the area surrounding the Xayaburi dam on the Lower Mekong River last week found major road works under construction and villagers preparing to be relocated. Several of the villagers said they were to receive as little as US$15 (450 baht) in compensation for moving from the area. Trucks and backhoes bearing the name of Ch Karnchang, the Thai company jointly involved in the $3.5 billion project with the Lao government, were seen clearing and grading roads. More
Ch Karnchang Plc (CK), Thailand’s second-largest contractor, insists that banks and the government of Laos remain committed to the Xayaburi dam the company plans to build on the Mekong River. More
“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. More
but warned that further environmental studies would take longer than Laos was willing to wait. Indeed the patience of the Lao authorities may already have run out. A report in the Bangkok Post includes photos that appear to show that construction at the site is already under way. More