» 07/07/2012, 00.00
Xayaburi Dam, Vientiane promises halt on construction
For the Lao Government work on the mega-plant has been stooped. However, changes are being considered to make the dam more "modern and transparent". Environmentalists sound alarm: the work continues and will have devastating impacts on the river and the Mekong basin countries. Protests of entire villages in Cambodia.
Vientiane (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Laos intends to continue the construction of the
controversial Xayaburi dam, a mega hydro-electric plant, the center of
controversy over the environmental impact on the Mekong
and the people who live along the River. This
according to official sources, Wednesday in Vientiane, who confirm the intention to respect
the agreements signed with neighboring countries. In
recent weeks, environmental groups have sounded the alarm: the main builder Ch
Karnchang Pcl says the work would continue, despite assurances to the contrary
announced - officially at least - by the Lao government in December last year. For
environmentalists the dam would irreparably damage the fish and fishermen's
few days ago entire villages in Cambodia
along the Mekong River,
Lao Deputy Minister for Energy Viraphonh Viravong declares that the government
has kept its promises, promoting in-depth research about the subsurface of the
valley of the Mekong. On
behalf of the executive he ensures that the project will be developed in a
"transparent" fashion, creating "one of the most modern dams in
the world." To
reach the goal the initial idea changes will be made to the original plans so
that "85% of the fish can pass through" the system, in line with the
"guidance provided by the Mekong River Commission."
project on the Xayaburi dam involves the construction of a hydroelectric plant to
the tune of 3.5 billion dollars to reach a power supply of 1,260 megawatts, in
a remote area in northern Laos.
involves the forced displacement of 2,100 villagers and will have serious
consequences for tens of thousands of other people. The
implementation is entrusted to a Thai company and the land of the elephants will
benefit the most from the exchange. Laos
plans to transform itself into the "battery of Southeast
Mekong River Commission (MRC) is calling for a 10 year moratorium on
construction and a study published in February, showed that the dams can cause
a drop of 300 thousand tons in fishery per year, with serious consequences for
more than a million people,
especially in Cambodia.
65 million people live along the Mekong
River - which rises in the Tibetan plateau
and flows along the southern Chinese province
of Yunnan, then into Myanmar, Thailand,
Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam - who survive on fishing
(estimated 3 billion dollars worth per year) and fish farms. But
now the river, 4,880 kilometers long and considered the 2nd richest in
biodiversity in the world, is threatened by many hydroelectric dam projects,
including the Xayaburi dam, which in September Laos has submitted to the Mekong
River Commission (MRC).
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Put on hold in 2004 by Premier Wen Jiabao, the project seems to be going ahead anyway. The area it will affect has been classified as a World Heritage site. Should the dams be built at least 50,000 people will be displaced to give way to construction.
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Vientiane go ahead for Xayaburi dam. Bangkok agrees, environmentalists at war
The Laotian Government has given the green light to the resumption of work on the mega-plant for more than three billion dollars. Executive denies there are environmental problems. Opinion shared by Thailand. Ecologists and associations: "devastating" plants that put the region's development at risk.
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The Laotian government has approved a plan to develop a lignite mine and built a power plant in the Hongsa Valley, an area near the habitat of an important elephant population. Environmentalists and experts fear this will drive the pachyderms closer to extinction.
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