The Mekong basin is being stirred up by dams, both on the mainstream and tributaries, despite the warning that they pose serious threats to an ecologically and agriculturally vital area of the world. Experts say a basin scale vision is crucial for good water governance, but when will it become a reality?
Recently, the Central Highlands has been planned as the location for the largest hydroelectric center in the whole country. Along the major river systems of five regional provinces there are 11 large-scale hydropower plantsin operation, as well as 360 small and medium hydropower plants that have been planned and built. However, due to the impacts on the environment, local economy and society, some projects were suspended.
Thuong Kon Tum dam, which is built in the Dak Snghe River watershed, is one of the biggest hydropower projects in the basin of the Se San river. The effect of the dam is still questionable but it raises concerns about environmental impacts as the project will take more than 382ha of watershed protection forests in Kon Tum province and divert water into the Tra Khuc river in Quang Ngai province.
Hydropower development is always a trade-off between economic benefits and environmental issues. Human-beings’ intrusive intervention has been turning many rivers into dead flows. The fate of the 3S basin – the name of three rivers Sesan, Sekong and Srepok which run through the territories of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia before joining the Great Mekong – are drastically threatened by hydropower dams.
A group of 7 young environmentalists brought a petition about Sambo hydropower dam in Kratie province to Ministry of Environment on morning of 26 September 2016 to request the ministry to review possible impacts of the dam. Ministry of Environment accepted and showed a positive stand to the youth group after receiving the petition immediately.
According to the Vietnam River Network, Lower Sesan II dam in Cambodia will affected both environmental and social aspects, not only around the project site but also from the upstream Sesan River to downstream at the Sekong River, Tonle Sap, Vietnam Mekong Delta region and also some parts of Laos and Thailand. However the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for this project only refers some affects around the dam and the transboundary impacts were not mentioned in EIA report.
Vietnamese journalists took an investigative field trip to Stung Treng province of Cambodia where the Lower Sesan II dam is being constructed now on the Sesan River, one of the mainstreams of the Lower Mekong River.
A comprehensive investigation into the myriad of social, economic and environmental challenges facing communities along one of the Mekong’s most biologically and socially vibrant tributaries due to the Cambodian government’s determination to erect a major hydroelectric dam.
Mekong countries’ chronic shortage of electricity which threatens to stymie economic growth, could be eased by pushing for acceleration of plans by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) for a regional power grid. However, damming the Mekong River can causes widespread controversy in South East Asia. Lower Sesan 2 dam on Mekong river in Cambodia is a typical example.
The controversial Lower Sesan 2 Dam (LS2 Dam) is being built in the worse possible location: at the junction of two of the most important tributaries of the Lower Mekong River in northern Cambodia, i.e. the Sesan River & Srepok River.
This dam has received strong opposition and criticism from scientists, fisheries experts, NGOs and Human Rights groups. The dam will be located at a vital junction for the reproductive migration of dozens of Mekong River fish species. Thousands of families in six Villages in northern Cambodia will be displaced.