01/07/2015, 00.00
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Laos to build Don Sahong dam (thanks to Chinese help)

by N.H.
The Laotian government officially announces the construction of the dam. Once completed, it will likely affect the lives of at least 60 million people, damaging crops and ecosystems.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Laos has officially announced that it will build the Don Sahong dam on the Mekong River, rekindling fears about its impact on local ecosystems.

Chinese companies will be in charge of the technical side of the project, which includes the construction of some 19 large dams, six of which have already been built.

Experts and environmentalists have described the various barriers as a "chain of cannons" hanging over people's heads.

Once completed, the dam will be a risk to at least 60 million people living along the river's lower basin and to most of its fish population, because it will block the Hou Sahong Channel - the only year-round channel for trans-boundary fish migration on the Mekong.

Meanwhile, the construction of the Xayaburi dam has reached 30 per cent. The hydroelectric plant is set to displace 2,100 local villagers with serious consequences for tens of thousands more.

A Thai company is in charge of building the dam, and Thailand will benefit the most once it is operational.

"Hydropower developing is going too fast. Even when we can see the terrible effects, we cannot fix them, especially in the case of the Don Sahong Dam," said Dr Đào Trọng Tứ, director of the Centre for Sustainable Development.

The Vietnam River Network agrees. "Once completed, the dam will reduce sediments, damage the soil, and cut crop yields. Meanwhile, farming costs, including fertilisers, will go up."

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