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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid