Laos Announces Postponing Xayaburin Dam Project

Laos has officially confirmed that the controversial Xayaburin dam project has been suspended. 

A Finnish-funded study for the suspension of the project was recommended in the past and finally, after the recent visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on Friday, 13 July 2012, called for further clarification involving the dam.

Finland has participated in Xayaburin dam project environmental impact assessment, including the funding of the report, which recommended the freezing of the Mekong River downstream dam projects. Finland has also been the largest donor to the Mekong River Commission.

Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said at the South-East Asian Nations-ASEAN meeting in Cambodia that the Lao government has to put the project on hold as more studies have to be conducted.

Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke at the meeting on the dam project and demanded more environmental reviews. Clinton said the United States stands ready to assist in financing inventories.

Environmental organisations and neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia, among others have called for further investigation on the dam as they fear the damaging of the lower Mekong River wildlife and fish, and also the fact that the river is consumed by millions of people in the industry.

Vietnam and Cambodia, who had opposed the project, has expressed its satisfaction with the decision.

Although Laos has the decision-making power for Xayaburin to construct the dam, it is largely Thai project. More than three-billion-euro investment will mainly come from Thailand and most of the energy produced by the dam would go to Thailand’s needs.

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