Vietnam convenes with neighbours on dam project in Laos

Based on the results of a study carried out by Poyry, a Finnish water resource consultancy company leaders of ministries concerned with natural resources and the environment hope to come to a conclusion as to whether or not the proposed dam in the northern region of Laos should be built.

During the meeting, these countries will jointly consider the results of a study if the proposed dam would meet requirements set by the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

The dam could have environmental and social consequences for countries downstream, such as Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The study addresses issues of mitigating any possible damage.

“Affected nations have to deal with two different, sometimes contradictory, issues. One is to produce reliable hydroelectric power. The other is to ensure the livelihoods and the environment of those who live downstream,” said one anonymous source from the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

In April, the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment called for Laos to halt the Xayaburi hydropower project for 10 years, in order to assess the impacts on the Mekong River and lives of people living along it.

In response, Laos’ Prime Minister, Thoongsing Thammavong, informed his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, at the 18th ASEAN Summit in Indonesia, that construction has been temporarily delayed.

Pham Khoi Nguyen, Chairman of the Vietnam Mekong River Commission said, “Besides Xayaburi, 11 other hydropower projects are in the planning stages along the river’s main stream. If all these projects are approved without competent and adequate assessments, it would be a big mistake.”

Alluvium deposits along the river have been predicted to fall by 26 tonnes a year, he said, adding that the dam could have a dramatic impact on aquatic life and biodiversity.

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