Mekong Eye

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  • CK gets B19bn environmental contract for Xayaburi dam


    SET-listed Thai construction firm Ch. Karnchang Plc (CK) has secured an additional 19-billion-baht construction contract to optimise the environmental performance of the Xayaburi hydroelectric power plant in Laos.

    Company president Supamas Trivisvavet said the additional construction aimed to fulfill requests by the Mekong River Commission to create an earthquake-resistant structure, navigation log, fish passageway and sediment flushing system.

  • Harnessing Sesan River: Cambodia and its goal for electricity self-sufficiency


    For the past ten years, Cambodia’s economy has been growing by an average of 7 percent and the government has set the sight to upgrade the country to the status of middle-income country in 2030 by promoting investments especially garment industry and service sector. And this has spurred the increasing need of electricity.

    According to the Electricity Authority of Cambodia, Cambodia bought 40-50 percent of its energy need from neighbouring countries. The Southeast Asia Energy Outlookj 2015 report which was undertaken by the International Energy Agency predicted that energy need of the region would increase to three times of the current need in year 2040 and coal was designated by IEA as the main source of fuel for electricity generating.

  • China May Shelve Plans to Build Dams on Its Last Wild River


    On a roadside next to the Nu River, Xiong Xiangnan is trying to sell fish to tourists. He doesn’t look like a traditional fisherman. Xiong sports a pompadour and wears a brown jacket, jeans, and white Crocs, with a money purse slung across one shoulder. As several of his friends stand around smoking, Xiong makes his pitch.

    The fish were very hard to catch, he says. The nets must be set at night and checked early in the morning. That’s why he’s charging 240 yuan—about $37—for the biggest trophy in his buckets.

    Behind Xiong, the Nu River flows freely, bumbling with rapids, swirling with eddies. Some of this water has spilled down from glaciers on the Tibetan plateau, filling a channel that snakes 1,700 miles (2,736 kilometers) through China, then Myanmar and Thailand, before spilling into the Andaman Sea.

  • Livelihoods in jeopardy as Vietnam’s Mekong Delta struggles with sediment loss


    Duong Cong To checks the water of the Hau River next to his house and he is not happy at all.

    “It’s too clean,” he says.

    The 72-year-old has spent all his life by the river, one of two tributaries of the Mekong and the main source of alluvium for fish farms and plantations in southern Vietnam.

    Over the past years he has noticed a significant change in the river: it keeps changing its color from a reddish brown to an ocean-like blue.

    “The water should look red. Now it’s crystal clear like there’s nothing in there.”

  • The four challenges threatening the Mekong Delta


    Located at the end of the Mekong River, the Mekong Delta of Vietnam was formed about 6,000 years from sediments of the river flowing into the sea plus the process of sea regression.

    After the country’s unification in 1975, Vietnam embarked on the planning and exploitation of the delta. The country has successfully solved the alkaline, acidic and salty problems to develop agriculture, particularly rice cultivation in this region. In 1986, the total rice output of the Mekong Delta was around 7 million tones and currently i25 million tonnes, accounting for 90% of Vietnam’s total rice expert turnover.

  • Residents in Myitsone urge President to end Myitsone Dam project


    Residents in the Myitsone Dam project area have urged President Htin Kyaw and the new government to end the Myitsone project so that relocated villagers can return to their villages

    “If the new government does not end this project, how must we, the residents, live? Our hearts are pounding. I want to cry. We have suffered repeatedly from troubles. If the project is not cancelled, I am sure that I will die there,” Ja Hkaung, whose farmland in Tan Hpe village was confiscated due to the project, said in a press conference.

  • Damned if you do, damned if you don’t


    In the late 1980s, Chatichai Choonhavan’s government promised an ambitious water diversion project to provide a constant supply of water to the dry Northeast.

    Local politicians promoted the Khong-Chi-Mun project, telling the expectant farmers of Isan they would never want for water again.

    But today, locals such as Pha Kongtham, 65, from Ban Don Samran in Roi Et’s Phon Sai district sees nothing but the remnants of failure.

    Under the project, which spanned various governments until realisation, 14 dams were built in the Chi and Mun rivers, the main water sources of lower Isan. But the majority of them have now stopped operating.

  • Are mega dams a solution or burden to climate change?


    As the world rushes into implementing the commitments enshrined in the historic climate deal in Paris in December, the use of large dams to mitigate climate change is becoming more popular across Asia and the world. But for many environmental and social advocates, this source of water and power remains a questionable solution that may even exacerbate our already fragile river resources. Eco-Business takes a look into the debate surrounding mega dams.

  • Mekong Delta loses half of silt to upstream dams: scientists


    Le Van Nam has difficulty sleeping at night thinking of the fall in yields year after year on his rice field allegedly due to less silt being washed down the Mekong River because of upstream dams.

    “In the last winter-spring crop, my 5,000 square meters only produced 3.5 tons of rice while it was four tons the previous year,” the farmer from An Giang Province said.

    Declining flows down the Mekong River due to the building of dams upstream have been partly blamed – as have severe droughts — for reduced yields and worsening erosion in the delta.

    According to the An Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, floods in the 4,900-km river used to bring silt and fish.

    However, declining flows in recent years have made the land less fertile.

  • Small is worrying: tributaries, ‘small’ hydro and the Mekong hydropower debate


    So, last week I attended a meeting held at Can Tho University entitled ‘Sustainable Uses of Mekong Water Resources’. With Can Tho sitting squarely in the middle of the Mekong Delta, and suffering dreadfully from the current drought, the debate was highly emotional. And often very loud.

    Participants acknowledged El Niño and climate change as two variables responsible for the absence of rain. But most of the ire was directed at mainstream dams north of the delta.Mainstream dams. South of the China border, none of these are complete, and just two are under construction. The Laotian dams were certainly focussed upon, but most of the concern was with the Chinese dams. Recently, China has released a considerable quantum of water from their dams, with the stated aim of assisting their drought-stricken neighbours to the south. The reasons for these releases were treated with scepticism.

  • Northern Vietnam may need 5-7 water dams to tackle drought, say scientists


    A group of scientists has proposed building a network of between five and seven dams on the Red River to store and supply water for Vietnam’s northern region.

    The group is studying water shortages in the region and believes that water dams can help the provinces survive dry seasons, which have become very intense the past few years.

    “Unlike hydropower dams whose main task is to generate power, these dams will regulate water flows, especially during the dry season,” Tien Phong newspaper quoted Tran Dinh Hoa, deputy director of the Vietnam Academy of Water Resources, as saying.

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