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

In US, Still No Decision in Racially-charged Case

Missouri town, many Americans on edge over whether jurors will indict white police officer in August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid