Mekong Eye

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Laos

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.

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Opinion

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.

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Mekong Phnom Penh

Mekong Dams Not Cause of Drought

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday disputed the idea that water shortages along the Mekong River have been exacerbated by two massive hydropower dams being developed by Laos, saying the drought currently afflicting much of mainland Southeast Asia was caused only by “the sky.”

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Opinion

Thailand’s transparency deficit: Haste makes waste on mega-projects

One of the country’s top bankers is stressing the need for faster action to transform Thailand into a hub for CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam). Kevin Tan, CEO of HSBC Thailand, was speaking during an interview on Vietnam's increasing attractiveness to foreign investors. Vietnam's gross domestic product grew a whopping 797 per cent between 1995 and 2014, from US$20.74 billion to $186.2 billion. Thailand's GDP growth was sluggish in comparison, rising from $169.28 billion to $404.8 billion over the same period. And with big names like Intel, Apple and Samsung now showing interest in Vietnam, it seems the times are against Thailand.

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Feature

Drowning in generosity

Again?” Chai Tamuen, 42, thought when he saw Mekong water rising at the riverbank of Chiang Khan district in Loei eight days ago. Overnight, water had engulfed the sandy shore of Kaeng Khut Khu, a tourist spot popular for swimming and recreation, leaving stalls stranded on an “island” now surrounded by water. As a vendor, Mr Chai was forced to leave his kiosk four days later when water submerged half of the island. “This is not the first time that the bank has been flooded in dry season. It’s happened like this for the last five years,” he said. “We can’t predict water. Our income has not been stable since Chinese dams have taken control over the water upstream.” China announced on March 14 it would discharge a massive quantity of water from one of its dams, claiming it would help communities in the Mekong region facing severe drought.

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Laos releases dam water to ease drought in Vietnam's Mekong Delta

Laos has started releasing water from its dams to the Mekong River to help Vietnam's southern region cope with severe drought and saltwater intrusion, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry on Friday quoted Lao Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath as saying that Laos had discharged around 1,136 cubic meters of water per second to the lower Mekong River basin on Wednesday. The country planned to keep doing so until the end of May.

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Water management center for Mekong River to be established

The Prime Minister has revealed a water management center will be set up under the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) to manage water levels in the Mekong River more effectively. Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said after returning from the first MLC meeting in China that the water management center will alert countries in the Mekong River Basin to be prepared whenever China discharges water into the river.

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Struggling with riverbank erosion by Nam Theun 2 dam

Since 2010 the river banks in Phuk Pheua village in Savannakhet province have started to rapidly erode, causing hardship for the village people. The extent of the erosion has increased every year, and each year the rate of erosion seems to be getting worse. This rapid erosion has been caused by the Nam Theun 2 dam, which discharges water into the river upstream of the river.

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Eye Original

NGOs question China's dam release

One week ago, China doubled the quantity of water released from the Jinghong Dam along the Mekong River in Yunnan province. This came two days following Vietnamese officials meeting in Beijing to request the increase due to severe drought conditions and low flows in the Mekong Delta. But at a press conference in Bangkok yesterday, representatives of Thai civil society and communities denounced the action as destructive and insincere. “No one doubts that people in the Vietnamese Delta may be suffering from salt water intrusion due to low Mekong flows this dry season,” said Montree Chantawong from Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), “But these additional dam releases can’t really help them, yet are hurting many of us.”

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