Mekong ‘gravity’ study under fire

A feasibility study on a proposal to build a tunnel diverting water from the Mekong River to the drought-stricken Northeast region will be wrapped up by year-end and will determine whether the multi-billion baht project is economically viable, a senior irrigation official says.

Somkiat Prajamwong, director of the Project Management Office, Department of Royal Irrigation, said the study on the Mekong-Loei-Chi-Mun project, which will manage and divert water from the Mekong to the Chi and the Mun rivers, will also focus on the technical and engineering aspects to make sure water can be diverted to the destinations using only the principle of gravity.

Iron mine damages 25ha of rice fields

The exploitation of an iron mine has caused landslide, damaging some 25ha of rice fields in Ho Hamlet, Huong Son Commune, Huong Hoa District of the in this Central Quang Tri Province.

The local authority identified an upstream iron mine, managed by Hoanh Son Industry, Trade and Services JSC, as the source of the problem.

Apart from ruining the rice fields, which have now been abandoned, sand and rubble from the mine have blocked the Khe Let stream. Moreover, vehicles transporting the iron ore have damaged a section of the road connecting the commune with Huong Hoa District.

Pak Moon dam still a dilemma 25 years on

When dam proponents came to her house almost three decades ago and made promises that Pak Moon dam would bring prosperity and progress to surrounding villages, Lamphai Khamlap was immediately suspicious.

Today, her concerns are being realised. The dam which was completed in 1994 on the Moon River, a tributary of the Mekong River, has had a severe impact on the livelihood of the villagers in Ubon Ratchathani.

“Hell” was the terse response of Mrs Lamphai, now 59, when asked what the Pak Moon dam meant to her. Her harsh indictment was echoed by many others.

Eye On: Baht Beyond Borders

With public opposition to major infrastructure projects a growing concern, and willing partners in neighboring countries eager to pick of the slack, Thailand’s industrialists are fanning out in all directions. Energy projects dominate the mix, including coal, gas and hydropower. As a result, it’s the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand driving much of the activity.

Myanmar expects entry of more US businesses

Representatives of US companies have become frequent guests at the Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry these days as they explore business opportunities in the long-isolated country.

The visits have gathered pace since the National League for Democracy (NLD) won the election and the power transition from military rule appeared to be going smoothly, Win Aung, president of the federation, said last week.

“I strongly believe that Myanmar-US economic relations will strengthen in the next government’s term.

Saltwater Advances in the Mekong Delta

This week that the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s main rice growing region, is being gradually contaminated by salt water moving inland due to the ongoing drought, which in turn is caused mainly by El Nino. Already, 200 000 tons of rice have been damaged. Relief will come with the end of El Nino, which should bring more freshwater to the delta.

Industrial zones polluting water with chemicals

Many industrial zones nationwide failed to operate their waste treatment systems properly and have dumped large amounts of industrial waste with high levels of toxic chemicals into the environment, according to Dr Le Trinh, from Viet Nam Environmental Science and Development Institute.

Trinh said industrial waste and wastewater were major contributors to environmental pollution.

Industrial and urban wastewater has caused serious water pollution in many channels in HCM City, including the Tham Luong, Ba Bo and An Ha channels, according to the institute.

Charter writers agree to spell out community rights

The Constitution Drafting Committee has agreed to spell out in the new draft communities’ right to sue state agencies and the requirement for environmental and health impact assessments for all large projects following numerous complaints.

The move came after people in the provinces, environmental activists and academics had criticised the omissions of community rights provisions present in Section of 67 of the 2007 charter.

Charter writers explained earlier they had taken a different approach to protecting the rights. Instead of putting them in the Rights and Liberties chapter like in the previous constitution, they included them by implication in the State Duties chapter. While they claimed the effects were the same, activists and communities were not comfortable with the change.

Drought-hit Thailand taps Mekong water

Facing a severe drought this year, Thailand is pumping water from the Mekong river to irrigate farms inland. It also wants to divert larger volumes, despite warnings from environmentalists about the downstream impact.

Pumping is now taking place in north-eastern Thailand, a parched region separated from Laos by the Mekong. In Nong Khai province, where a sluice gate between the Mekong and its tributary located within Thailand is now closed, temporary pumps are extracting water from the river at a rate of 15 cu m per second to water crops.

Myitsone dam is as much Aung San Suu Kyi’s problem as Beijing’s

In September 2011, Myanmar President Thein Sein announced that construction of China’s largest hydroelectric project in Southeast Asia — the $3.6 billion-plus Myitsone dam in northern Myanmar — would be suspended for the duration of his term.

This came as a shock to China, which had believed that Myanmar was securely within the Sinocentric orbit, if not quite a “client state.”