Neighboring countries have called on Laos to consider the cross-border environmental impacts of a hydropower plant it plans to build on the Mekong River.
Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand expressed concern after the Mekong River Commission (MRC) completed a six-month consultation process for the Luang Prabang Dam project on Tuesday.The MRC is an intergovernmental organization that works directly with the governments of Indochina to manage shared water resources.
Construction of Luang Prabang 1,400 megawatts was started this year.
The three countries said in a proposal made at a meeting of the Mekong River Commission Joint Committee that Laos should take measures to reduce potential harm from the project.
The Committee consists of senior officials not less than the rank of Director from four countries.
Cambodia wants Laos to conduct more transboundary environmental impact assessments and provide more documentation on sediment management strategies.
Thailand said it must identify measures to minimize cross-border impacts on the economy, society, livelihoods and environment.
Vietnam calls on Laos and other MRC members to make a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of not only Luang Prabang but all other dams on the Mekong mainstream.
Chanthanet Boualapa, who led the Lao delegation to the committee meeting, said his government is committed to addressing major concerns, is willing to share more information and organize project visits to jointly monitoring to ensure that the project will not have major negative impacts and be beneficial. all parties involved.
Laos has made changes to its dam safety guidelines in line with international standards and all new projects, including Luang Prabang, will be subject to those guidelines, he said.
In July last year, Laos informed the MRC Secretariat of its intention to hold a Prior Consultation on the project.The notification contains a detailed description of the dam for review by the secretariat and informs other Member States of its scope and other requirements.
The Working Group of the MRC's Joint Commission on Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) met on 8 October and chose that date as the official start of the six-year consultation process. month.It was scheduled to end on April 7, this year, but was postponed following the outbreak of Covid-19.
Luang Prabang is Laos' fifth hydropower project built before the MRC.The state-owned Luang Prabang Electricity One Member Limited Liability Company and PetroVietnam Power Corporation, a subsidiary of Vietnamese oil and gas company PetroVietnam, are the developers of the project.
The dam will be built in Houygno village, Luang Prabang province.
Laos inaugurated the 1,285 MW Xayaburi Dam in October and the 260 MW Don Sahong Dam in January despite objections from environmental groups.
It also plans to build the Pak Lay and Sanakham dams.
Hydropower development is central to Laos' plan to export about 20,000 MW of electricity to neighboring countries by 2030.
The Mekong flows 4,880 kilometers from its origin in Tibet through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the sea.
China has built 19 hydroelectric plants on the river.
Experts have repeatedly blamed them for record low water levels and severe water shortages in downstream countries since 2019.
An MRC report said water levels during the flood season in early June and July last year were among the lowest on record.In Thailand's Chiang Rai province, this number drops to 2.1 meter above the average of 3.02 meters during the past 57 years.
From the upper reaches of the lower basin in Thailand's Chiang Saen down to Thailand's Nong Khai and Cambodia's Neak Luong, water is even lower than the record levels seen in 1992.
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