Mekong Eye

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Stories - Page 370

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

    03/29/2016

    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.

  • Drowning in generosity

    03/29/2016

    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.

  • The grand vision for mainland China’s Nu River can become a model for the region

    03/29/2016

    China’s slowing economy would not seem a good time to scrap hydroelectric dam projects. That would seem especially so in southwest Yunnan’s Nu River valley, among the nation’s poorest regions. Yet provincial authorities have decided to put the way of life of villagers and the environment first by calling a halt to small-scale schemes. It is a hopeful sign for those in the area and downstream in Myanmar and Thailand who rely on the waters for their livelihoods.

    The valley is a Unesco World Heritage site included for its scenery and biodiversity, accounting for 6,000 different types of plants and half of China’s animal and fish species. Plans in 2004 for a 13-dam cascade to be built in the upper reaches of the Nu were shelved under pressure the following year, but revived in 2013 on a lesser scale with an eye on meeting national renewal energy targets. The province’s Communist Party chief, Li Jiheng, said earlier this month that projects for coal mines and small hydro plants beside the river and on tributaries would not go ahead. In five to 10 years, with vegetation restored, the valley would be a tourist attraction rivaling the US’ Grand Canyon.

  • A reality check for renewable energy

    03/29/2016

    The clean-and-safe energy revolution is not imminent. In fact, according to the information compiled by Looking Ahead: The 50 Global Trends That Matter,1an annual compendium of data and graphics on subjects ranging from economics to demography to energy, the majority of the planet’s electricity needs will still be fueled by coal and natural gas in 2040—despite strong growth in nonhydro renewables such as wind, solar, and geothermal. The report also expects the shale phenomenon to abate, with Saudi Arabia reasserting itself as the world’s leading oil producer in 2030.

    Looking Ahead, which is produced by an independent think tank supported by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Court, does not take a view on these trends; instead, it simply lays out the best available information from a wide variety of sources, including governments, consultancies, think tanks, corporations, and multilateral institutions. The overriding aim of the publication is to highlight issues that matter in compelling visualizations that make it easier for readers to grasp a large amount of interlinked data—and thus better understand both the nature of the problems the world faces and how to address them.

  • UN Envoy Meets With Sesan Villagers to Discuss Dam Site

    03/29/2016

    The U.N.’s human rights envoy to Cambodia on Sunday promised villagers in Stung Treng province who are set to be displaced by the construction of the Lower Sesan 2 hydropower dam that she would raise their plight with the government, a village representative said.

    Puth Khoeun, a representative for about 240 families who have rejected compensation offers for land they will lose to make way for the massive energy project, said Rhona Smith spent more than an hour hearing the grievances of 60 residents during a meeting in Sesan district’s Srekor commune.

  • Thais must face up to China reality

    03/28/2016

    There has always been a special bond between China and Thailand, which hosts the largest overseas Chinese community in the world. In Thai culture, the Chinese influence is easily traced, through descendants whose origins can be found in rural areas of the southern Chinese mainland, from where their ancestors fled poverty, communism and political oppression to the more hospitable environs of Thailand.

    China has always been perceived as a friend — a friend indeed who never leaves a friend in need. The phrase is not just a cliche. Comrades from the mainland have proven their love. During the tom yam koong economic crisis in 1997, this friend lent the debt-ridden Thailand much-needed funds, while other friends gave it the cold shoulder.

  • China Focus: Lancang-Mekong cooperation enriches countries along the river

    03/28/2016

    A border railway station which has been in existence for more than 100 years in southwest China’s Yunnan Province got a new lease on life last year after having been left desolate for a decade.

    The cargo train via Shanyao Station on the China-Vietnam border hit the buffers in 2013 and was suspended for a while. The service has since resumed and is now busier than ever.

    A railway linking Kunming in Yunnan province and the border with Vietnam opened in December 2014 and the following year 366,400 tonnes of cargo — iron ore, sulfur, fertilizer and so on — flowed from China into Vietnam via Shanyao, over 100 times more than the year before. Already this year, 89,700 tonnes of goods have gone the same way.

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

    03/28/2016

    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.

  • The Manual: Community consultation and monitoring on the impact of hydropower

    03/28/2016

    According to the report of the Commission on Science, Technology, Environment and Government, by 2013 Vietnam has had 113 terraced Hydroelectric power plants on some major rivers and 1,108 small hydropower plants are now being projected. The development of this manual is important as it illustrates the many evidences of hydropower impacts on the environment and society. This manual was produced when state policies and guidelines were aimed at promoting the role of community participation and supervision.

  • Water management center for Mekong River to be established

    03/28/2016

    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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