News / Asia

Laos Mekong Dam Opponents Take Case to Court

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.
Daniel Schearf
BANGKOK — Thai opponents of a hydropower dam planned for the Mekong River in Laos are taking their case to court, but not in communist Laos.  In a bid to halt the project’s future they have filed a lawsuit against Thai energy authorities to try to cancel an agreement to buy most of the electricity produced by the dam.

The lawsuit argues the agreements are unconstitutional and illegal because they did not involve public consultation with villagers or downstream countries. Villagers hope that without the power purchase agreement, the $3.6 billion dam project will not be able to go ahead.

Pianporn Deetes, campaign manager with International Rivers, an environmental activist group involved with the lawsuit, says villagers already complain of adverse affects from upstream dams in China. Deetes said they worry about further damage if dams are built on the lower Mekong.

“Villagers have experienced negative impacts such as the change of ecosystem, unusual water fluctuations, flash flooding or flash drought, that is not natural any more," Deetes explained. "And, this adversely affected fish migration patterns.”

The Mekong River Basin is the biggest inland fishery in the world. About 60 million people depend on the river for their livelihoods.

Downstream countries Cambodia and Vietnam also oppose the project out of concern for the effect on fish stocks.

But, impoverished Laos wants to build the Xayaburi dam, and several others, as part of plans to become the “battery” of Southeast Asia.

The lawsuit, though supported with 1,000 signatures, is likely to face strong opposition from Thailand’s energy authorities as well as Thai companies that are heavily invested in the project.

Nonethless, Pianporn says they are optimistic they can win the case and hope to set a precedent for future cross-border projects.

“There are lots of Thai companies investing in neighboring countries, particularly Laos, Cambodia, and Burma, without any standards," Pianporn said. "They do not have to follow with Thai laws. We would like to see that this lawsuit would set a new standard with Thai overseas investment that at least they have to follow or respect the law in their home country.”

Laos suspended the Xayaburi dam project after strong opposition from Cambodia and Vietnam.

But, environmental groups point out project-related construction and deal-making has continued, indicating that Laos plans to go ahead with the dam regardless.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
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 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 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. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
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