By The Mekong Eye
Pakse, Champasak, Laos, September 9, 2015
Baht Beyond Borders #9 – Thai investment booming next door
Xayaburi Dam, Laos
It’s the most feared infrastructure project In the Greater Mekong Subregion. Not just by the 200,000 people directly impacted, and a coalition of local and international NGOs, but the governments of Vietnam and Cambodia, and the Mekong River Commission. Even US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton advises cautions and further study before erecting the first dam across the Lower Mekong River. However, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) is more than happy to encourage the government of Laos to do just that, and they are now over 30 per cent complete.
Beyond the localized impacts of blocking the Mekong’s mainstream, food security for millions downstream will be disrupted. 229 fish species will have their migration routes impacted, compromising a major protein source especially for communities in Cambodia. And nutrient-rich sediment flows to the rice-growing Mekong River Delta in Vietnam will be stranded. Geologists too warn that active faults nearby pose significant risk to the structure and downstream communities in the event of a dam failure. Though the Lao government now has plans to incorporate what it calls fish passage and sediment flushing technologies, one of the project’s main consultants distanced itself distanced itself from the Laos’ portrayal of the efficacy of such design elements. Meanwhile in June 2014 the Thailand’s Supreme Administrative Court agreed to hear a case brought by Mekong villagers that EGAT’s power purchase agreement (PPA) was unconstitutional due to the lack of environmental and social impact assessments and a failure to adequately consult with people effected.