News / Asia

Laos Pushes for Massive Dam Despite Criticism

Tourists and gamblers disembark a boat on the Mekong River near the Thai port of Chiang Saen in the Golden Triangle region where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Burma meet January 14, 2012.
Tourists and gamblers disembark a boat on the Mekong River near the Thai port of Chiang Saen in the Golden Triangle region where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Burma meet January 14, 2012.
Ron Corben
Groundbreaking has been held for a controversial $3.5 billion hydropower dam on the Mekong River.  Construction of the Xayaburi Dam appears to be going ahead despite criticism over its impact on the lower Mekong River system, especially from Cambodia and Vietnam.

Speaking at a ceremony Wednesday, Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sarnsawad Lengsawat said Laos considered other countries' views and decided to move ahead with the project.  The hydropower dam is set for completion in 2019.
 
The hydropower dam is expected to be one of up to 10 such projects on the lower portions of the 4,300-kilometer Mekong River that runs through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam’s delta region to the South China Sea.
 
Environmentalists fear dam's the long-term impact will block migratory routes of fish, potentially affecting the livelihoods of up to 60 million people.
 
But an engineer with South East Asia Energy Limited, the company building the dam, Somkuan Watakeekul, says it will benefit the region.
 
He says whether it is drinking water, agriculture, fishing or transport, everyone will benefit from the project.  He says the main benefits will be power generation, aid to Laos’ poor communities, and regional development and growth.
 
The groundbreaking ceremony took place, even though Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong earlier said the project was waiting further study.
 
An official from the Mekong River Commission (MRC), the body that oversees cooperation between Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam on river projects, told VOA the Commission is seeking clarification from the Lao delegation whether the ceremony marked a final decision by Laos to go ahead with the project.  In 2011, the Lao government agreed to halt the project until further environmental assessments were made.
 
The United States this week cautioned Laos about moving ahead with the project, saying the extent and severity of its impact on the ecosystem providing food security and livelihoods in the region remained unknown.  
 
An activist with the environmental group International Rivers, Pianporn Deetes, said the ceremony highlighted concerns over transparency surrounding the project.
 
“What is happening with this confusion is very well reflected or perfectly reflected, the whole story of the Xayaburi Dam, which is a lack of transparency," said Pianporn. "We never know what happens, we never know any information and only the dam builders, which is a private Thai company, and a few Lao high-ranking officials hold the decision and information.”
 
Under a joint agreement between Thailand and Laos 95 percent of the electricity generated by the hydropower plant is to be sold to Thailand. Earlier this week, Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, said his government supported the go-ahead for the project.

But both Cambodia and Vietnam have expressed reservations.  Vietnam is calling for a 10-year delay for all projects on the Mekong.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs