By MAYURI MEI LIN
Vientiane, Laos, November 9, 2016
The government of Laos has submitted a request to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) secretariat to construct a dam on the Mekong River in the country’s northern Oudomxay province.
According to a statement released yesterday by the MRC – an intergovernmental body tasked with the sustainable management of the lower Mekong Basin which intersects Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia – its secretariat will review Laos’ proposal over the next month, in accordance to its prior consultation process, before it is forwarded to its joint committee for consultation.
“The Pak Beng Hydropower Project is a run-of river project located in the Mekong mainstream. The power plant is planned to have an installed capacity of 912MW, designed to discharge the flow of 5,771.2 cubic meters per second,” the statement read.
“The Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat submitted on 4 November the detailed description of the planned project to the MRC secretariat for its review and further action to inform the other member countries about the project’s scope and other requirements under the prior consultation process,” it added.
According to the MRC, the prior consultation process, which involves representatives from all four nations, is the first step all member nations must participate in if they are interested in constructing large-scale irrigation and hydropower development projects along the Mekong River.
The process includes reviewing the technical aspects of a project, assessing possible environmental impacts as well as measuring its effect on the surrounding communities.
Previously, the MRC rejected two project proposals from the Lao government after it failed to meet the requirements at the joint committee consultation stage, which also involves representatives of all four member states reviewing the proposal and typically takes up to six months.