Archive for May 1st, 2012

May 1, 2012

Save the Mekong Press Release: As Mekong Leaders Gather, Public Awaits Answers on Xayaburi Dam

Save the Mekong Press Release: For Immediate Release

As Mekong Leaders Gather, Public Awaits Answers on Xayaburi Dam

1 May 2012

Phuket, Thailand –As the Mekong River Commission (MRC) member countries gather today for the MRC’s Mekong 2 Rio International Conference on Transboundary River Basin Management,  the Save the Mekong coalition has called upon regional governments to immediately address the ambiguities that have been left unanswered with respect to the future of the Xayaburi Dam and other mainstream dams.

On April 20th, the Save the Mekong coalition sent letters to the MRC’s respective Council members and CEO Mr. Hans Guttman asking for clarification on whether the prior consultation process for the Xayaburi Dam remains open and whether approval has been granted to build the Xayaburi Dam.  These concerns follow the April 17th announcement by Xayaburi Dam developer Ch. Karnchang that it had signed a $711 million construction contract with the Xayaburi Power Company, and that construction on the dam commenced on March 15, 2012.

“Ch. Karnchang has no right to build this project because no regional agreement has been made,” said Niwat Roykaew, Chair of the Chiang Khong Conservation Group in Thailand. “In December, the four governments agreed to postpone the decision on the dam, in order to carry out a transboundary impact assessment of the Mekong mainstream dams.  Thailand and Laos must act decisively and demand a stop to all construction activities.”

The Save the Mekong coalition also expressed concern over reports that the Thai government had signed the Xayaburi Dam’s power purchase agreement and granted permission for state-owned Krung Thai Bank to fund this dam, which appears to be in direct violation with the 1995 Mekong Agreement.  The coalition urged Thailand to immediately withdraw all involvement in the dam.

“The MRC’s prior consultation process is not finished, and yet construction is starting. Thailand and Laos are endangering the entire future of the Mekong River Basin,” said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Campaign Coordinator for International Rivers. “Before regional cooperation becomes jeopardized, it’s time the four countries renew their commitment to work together to protect the Mekong.”

“The Xayaburi Dam is not on the agenda of the Mekong2Rio conference, but will be the elephant in the room,” said Youra Sun, Executive Director of My Village in Cambodia. “Now is the time to spotlight the urgent need for the Mekong governments to chart a clear political path forward on the Xayaburi Dam.”

Tu Dao Trong, a representative of Vietnam Rivers Network said, “If the Mekong governments really want to discuss the future of transboundary cooperation around the Mekong River, they first need to agree on an immediate halt to the Xayaburi Dam while further studies are underway. We hope this conference becomes an opportunity for real dialogue.”

The Save the Mekong coalition’s April 20th letter stated that “scientific evidence to date overwhelmingly supports our position that these dams will cause significant and irreparable damage to the Mekong River and the people who depend on it.” The coalition has called upon regional governments to work together to protect the Mekong River as the river is central to the lives, ecology, and cultures of the region.

The Save the Mekong coalition fully supports the actions of Thai villagers from the Mekong region, who have traveled to Phuket and will be presenting a petition to the MRC member governments this morning to raise awareness about the Xayaburi Dam and call for its cancellation.

Mekong 2 Rio is considered a key regional event in the run-up to the United Nations’ Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development that world leaders will attend in Brazil in June. The Xayaburi Dam has become one of the most controversial sustainable development issues in Southeast Asia.


For more information:
Read the Save the Mekong letters sent to the MRC Council Members and CEO

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Protestors Condemn Ch. Karnchang Over Xayaburi Dam Construction

Thai villagers gather ouside Ch. Karnchang Headquarters to protest construction of the Xayaburi Dam

The Mekong River sustains the lives of millions of people living in the region

May 1, 2012

Anti-dam activists picket Phuket meeting

PHUKET: Around 30 members of the Network of Thai People in eight Mekong Provinces (TPMP) travelled from the Thai northeast to Phuket to protest today (May 1) against the Xayaburi Dam, a major project to dam the giant river.

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Paritta Wangkiat

Tuesday 1 May 2012, 05:10PM

Anti-dam protestors lay siege to the Mekong River Commission meeting in Karon.

With the Mekong River Commission (MRC) holding an international conference on “transboundary river basin management” at the Mövenpick Resort in Karon from today until Thursday, the TPMP saw a chance to confront senior figures in the Thai government to call for them to pay more attention to the sustainable exploitation of the Mekong.

The Xayaburi Dam project on the Mekong river in Laos, currently under construction, is aimed at giving the impoverished country an income from electricity generation.

If completed, the dam, 810 metres long and 32 metres high, would be capable of producing 1,260 megawatts of electricity. Ninety per cent of that would be sold to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

The Xayaburi Dam is the first of 12 hydroelectric projects proposed for the Mekong River and its tributaries under a blanket vision of the river becoming “the battery of South East Asia”.

On April 17, a Thailand-based company, Chor Karnchang, signed a B51-billion contract with a Laotian company Xayaburi Power to build the dam.

Construction began in March, sparking outrage from the TPMP because the project’s environmental impact assessment has yet to be completed.

Niwat Roykeaw, a leader of the TPMP, explained that the project would have a major effect on the ecology and local communities downstream, in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

According to eco-campaigning organisation International Rivers, the dam, when complete, will result in the forcible resettlement of more than 2,100 people, directly affect the livelihoods of more than 200,000 others, and bring permanent ecological change to the river, which feeds millions of people.

Mr Niwat added that the start of construction breached the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA), which states that the nations along the Mekong River must consult the MRC before building a mega project on the river.

“The governments of four nations [along the Mekong] and the MRC must get serious about the PNPCA,” said Mr Niwat. “This project will bring conflict between nations.”

However, the CEO of the MRC, Hans Guttman, told media that although the MRC acts as a coordinator among Mekong nations, it has no power to make decisions on the dam.

The Lao government is preparing for construction of the dam, he added, but has not yet decided absolutely whether to go ahead.

“The decision depends on the Lao government,” said Mr Guttman.

The TPMP said it will watch the MRC’s reactions to events in Laos “for a period of time”.

If no “action” is taken, a TPMP spokesman said, the group will up the stakes with a blockade of the First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, which spans the river between Nong Khai and Vientiane.

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Shane Worrell
Tuesday, 01 May 2012

Criticism of the controversial Xayaburi hydro dam project in northern Laos is mounting in Thailand – the country set to enjoy most of the electricity if the project is completed.

Representatives from 130 Thai civil-society organisations yesterday published a statement backing a report that outlines an alternative power plan to the 1,260-megawatt dam project on the Mekong River.

The Power Development Plan 2012, produced by Thai energy experts Chuenchom Sangasri Greacen and Dr Chris Greacen, was presented to the Thai government last week.

According to a statement by International Rivers, the report states that power from the Xayaburi dam is not needed to meet Thailand’s energy needs and calls for investment in renewable energy and other alternatives, which could reduce electricity bills by “12 per cent” by 2030.

“Thailand’s energy planning process is in a state of crisis. Persistent over-forecasting of energy demand has led to over-investment and onerous economic burdens on consumers,” Ms Greacen is quoted in the International Rivers statement. \

“This new power plan identifies barriers and offers realistic energy solutions, which will bring social, economic and environmental benefits to Thailand.”

Thai development firm Ch.­Karnchang announced on April 17 it had begun construction work on the dam on March 15.

This announcement came despite Mekong River Commission member states Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam agreeing in December that a study of the dam’s potential harm to the Mekong River and its communities must be carried out first.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at

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