The $2.3 billion project will be located about 1,500 kilometers from the Cambodia-Laos border and is expected to be completed in 2024.
The recent Pak Beng public forum illustrates regional engagement in the basin, especially about dam planning. But will the improved process translated into a more community and environmentally conscious project?
International Rivers believes that recent comments attributed in the media to the CEO of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) raise serious concerns about the role and positioning of the MRC Secretariat and the future of decision-making over hydropower development in the Mekong.
The smiles that once brightened faces in Luangtong, a small community in Laos’ northwest Oudomxay province, have disappeared. These days the residents appear defeated, stunned by the knowledge that before long the land that has sustained them for generations will be submerged under the waters behind Pak Beng Dam.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) bears an enormous weight on its shoulders, overseeing both the development and the protection of a channel on whom millions of people depend. But the commission has proved powerless in the latter mission, failing to protect or involve communities in hydropower projects that threaten their livelihoods.
On a visit to the Asian Institute of Technology AIT on 10-15-2012 to inspect the mockup of the Xayaburi Hydropower Dam, Mr. Viraphonh Viravong, Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines of Laos, the “brain” behind all development projects for hydropower dams in Laos asserted: “There is no question of Lao PDR not developing its hydropower potential. The only question is how to do it sustainably.”