Environmentalists and local residents have urged the government to protest against plans by Laos to build a hydropower dam on the Mekong River, saying the project will destroy livelihoods and the river ecosystem.
The Lao government last month notified the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its decision to push ahead with development of the Don Sahong Hydropower Project in the Siphandone area of Champasak province _ two kilometres from the Lao-Cambodian border.
Teerapong Pomun, a member of Thailand’s Living Rivers Siam Association, yesterday said his group and its allies would submit a letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra demanding the government raise concerns about the dam construction.
Ms Yingluck should call on the Lao government to follow the “prior consultation process”, an MRC regulation which states that any dam project along the Mekong requires feedback from neighbouring countries, he said.
Mr Teerapong said the Lao government claimed the dam would not be situated on the mainstream Mekong River, a claim he refutes.
Vientiane has said the 260-megawatt dam will be situated on the Hou Sahong, which is “one of the braided channels of the Mekong River”.
Pianporn Deetes, Thailand campaign coordinator at International Rivers, said the dam site is an important feeding and breeding ground for Mekong fish.
“The dam will deplete food security of the people in the Mekong downstream countries. We have to trade off fertile ecological systems and fish stocks with the dam, which will produce only a small amount of electricity,” she said.
The MRC yesterday issued a statement confirming the Lao government will start building the dam next month.
“Lao PDR submitted the project as an intra-basin water use on the Hou Sahong channel under the process of notification. This will enable the notified member countries to foresee the project’s water use and any impact stemming from this,” MRC Secretariat CEO Hans Guttman said.
He added Vientiane has indicated its willingness to discuss the project with other MRC member countries.