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  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato


    » 04/13/2011, 00.00

    ASIA

    Mekong River: Environmentalists against Xayaburi dam because it threatens ecosystem



    On 19 April, the project’s future will be decided. It is slated for construction in a remote area in northern Laos and is expected to provide power to Thailand. Environmentalists and Vietnamese authorities oppose the plan; 263 NGOs from 51 different nations are also against it because it could damage plant and animal life and jeopardise Vietnam’s rice production.
    Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A summit in Vientiane, capital of Laos, on 19 April will decide the fate of Xayaburi dam in the presence of Laotian, Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian representatives. Meanwhile, environmentalists continue their struggle against the project, which could cause very serious damages to the natural ecosystem and change the balance of the most important Southeast Asian river.

    The US$ 3.5 billion, 1.260-megawatt hydroelectric dam project is slated for a remote region of northern Laos, and would force the resettlement of up 2,100 villagers and affect tens of thousands of people. A Thai firm would build the dam, and Thailand would be the main beneficiary.

    The summit in Vientiane on 19 April should seal the fate of the project, which could get the green light, get the axe or be temporarily suspended waiting for the conclusions of an environmental impact study.

    Opponents of the project say it would set a precedent and allow the construction of ten more dams on the lower Mekong.

    Local officials and environmental experts warn that three dams build up river, in Chinese territory, have already taken a heavy toll on the river’s ecosystem. The “Xayaburi dam will bring more suffering,” they said.

    Environmentalists argue that such a dam would disrupt fish migrations, block nutrients for downstream farming and even foul Vietnam's rice bowl by slowing the river's speed and allowing saltwater to creep into the Mekong River Delta. Hanoi is in fact opposed to the project and for the first time has taken on Laos’ Communist government.

    Last month, 263 NGOs from 51 countries sent letters to the governments of Laos and Thailand urging the project be shelved.

    However, Laos in February said that the Xayaburi dam would be the "first environmentally friendly hydroelectric project on the Mekong" and that it would "not have any significant impact on the Mekong mainstream."

    Scientists have called for its construction to be delayed for 10 years until more research is conducted.

    A study by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) released in February warned that dams could reduce the fishery by 300,000 tonnes a year, with serious consequences for a million people, especially in Cambodia, who depend on fishing.

    It too recommended a ten-year moratorium to better study the consequences of the project.

    About 65 million people live along the Mekong River, which starts on the Tibetan plateau and flows through China’s Yunnan province before making its way to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, which all depend on it economically.

    The value of the fishery and fish farming has been estimated at around US$ 3 billion a year.

    Now the 4,880-kilometre waterway, considered to be the second most bio-diverse river in the world, is threatened by hydroelectric dam projects, like the Xayaburi dam, which Laos has presented to the MRC.

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    See also

    12/01/2007 CHINA – SOUTH EAST ASIA
    Mideast oil to be shipped up the Mekong River
    China is seeking an alternative route to the Strait of Malacca. River shipping has already been operation between Thailand and China’s Yunnan province. But environmental risks are high in a river that gives life to 60 million people.

    20/10/2010 LAOS – VIETNAM – CHINA
    Calls for a moratorium on Mekong dam building that destroy environment and people
    Laos and Cambodia are planning to build dams to generate electrical power for sale. China, which already has four big dams upstream, is accused of taking too much water. The river’s ecosystems and the lives of 65 million people are at risk. Vietnam and Thailand are not against a US role in the matter.

    23/06/2010 CHINA – THAILAND – LAOS
    New Mekong bridges linking China to SE Asia get green light
    The roads of a new north-south corridor will bring goods and people from China to South-East Asia. Social problems will come with the new transportation routes.

    10/12/2010 LAOS
    New dam on Nam Theun River opens, environmentalists protest
    The Laotian government says power sales to Thailand will generate US$ 80 million in revenues per year, improving the standards of living of the poor. Environmentalists complain the dam will upset the lives of 110,000 local residents.

    19/04/2011 ASIA
    Following Vietnam protests, Laotian govt puts off Xayaburi dam decision
    The four-nation (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand) Mekong River Commission met today. There is “still a difference in views” over the project, which Vietnam vehemently opposes. Environmentalists back a ten-year moratorium. Vientiane gives in and postpones decision.



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