Earlier this month, Japan announced a three-year, $7 billion investment deal with the countries of the lower Mekong River to boost development and improve infrastructure. In an email interview, Phuong Nguyen, an associate fellow with the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, discussed Japan’s relations in Southeast Asia.
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.
The dry months before the monsoon rains arrive are often tough for Cambodian fishermen and farmers. But with rivers drying up and drinking water running out, conditions have rarely been as bad as they are now.
The current drought is linked to El Niño, which has been disrupting weather patterns around the world. But the harsh conditions today might only be foreshadowing far worse to come, climate scientists say. Climate change is expected to continue to affect the Mekong Basin region, while future droughts are expected to be exacerbated by a string of major hydropower dam projects.
Experts fear that the present crisis could become the new normal for Cambodia and its neighbors, which have also been hit hard by record temperatures and a long period of extremely dry weather.
On May 26, 2016 Pact and the International Center for Environmental Management (ICEM) invite you to a panel discussion on strategic environmental assessment as it relates to energy investments in the lower Mekong region. The discussion will be followed by a networking reception recognizing 25 government officials from the lower Mekong region who are participating in a workshop on the same topic.
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.
“If Thailand’s Mekong diversion project takes place in the dry season, the Mekong’s water flows to Cambodia and Vietnam’s delta will be reduced significantly,” said Le Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Research Institute for Climate Change at Vietnam’s Can Tho University.
“The coastal areas of the delta will face serious saline intrusion. The agricultural production and water supply, as well as the ecosystems of the Mekong delta, will have big negative impacts.”
The drought has already caused significant damage to the Mekong delta. Mr Anh Tuan said as much as 70km of the mouth of the Mekong river had been contaminated by salt.
Investor confidence in the long-delayed Dawei special economic zone (DSEZ) is growing after Japan signed on as a third equal partner with Myanmar and Thailand this December. Japan’s backing may finally kick start construction of the billion dollar project that has been crippled by funding shortfalls since 2013. If it’s ever finished, the deep-seaport is expected to rival the one in Singapore, opening a new gateway to the Malacca Strait from the western Myanmar seaboard. The 196 square km special economic zone – scaled down from initial estimates of 204.5 square km – would become one the biggest industrial parks in Southeast Asia.
China will release more water from a dam in its southwestern province of Yunnan to help alleviate a drought in parts of Southeast Asia, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, following an initial release begun last month.
Thailand’s Energy policymakers recently announced plans to allow the private sector more access to promote solar power in the Kingdom. But restricting the program to just 100 MW of roof-top installations runs counter to emerging advice from within and experience from abroad, that solar power, and renewables generally are the way forward— not the large, unnecessary energy projects at home and in neighboring countries now driving Thailand’s energy policy.
At the core of this transition is debunking the myth of what’s known as base load: managing that minimal amount of power that is needed 24 hours a day to meet demand. Since electricity demand fluctuates hourly, with peak production in the afternoon when offices, air conditioners, and factories are in full operation, versus the wee hours of the morning when things are more cool and quiet, some power plants run all day long and others just supplement supply when electricity needs rise. Traditional fossil fuel plants have longtime been advanced to service this base load, and Thailand is no different. But techniques in demand management and the ability of solar in particular to meet the high demands during the day can reduce the need for these plants.
It’s not just humans but also animals downstream who are affected every time water is released from Chinese dams into the Mekong River.
“The survival rate of baby birds has dropped to less than 60% over the past three years, as their nests lie on the riverfront and the water level of the Mekong is so unpredictable,” lamented the administrator of a Facebook page devoted to bird lovers.
The right of citizens and communities to protect the environment against harmful development projects is now back in the draft constitution, thanks to fierce pressure by civil society nationwide. So people can relax now, right? Not a chance.
Face it. The military regime is in it for the long haul. Their diktats are the ultimate rules of the land. The community rights clause in the draft will be of no help because it has also been heavily diluted, turning active citizens and communities into state vassals.
Since the beginning of this year, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has issued a series of orders under the special powers of Section 44 in the interim charter to eliminate legal obstruction and fast-track mega projects. First it was an order to bypass land-zoning laws to speed up the government’s project to create special economic zones in 10 border provinces, which also faces fierce opposition from locals. That was in January.
The signing ceremony was held on Monday to mark the start of investment in a 200-megawatt plant to be located in Kanbauk.
Mr Upakit said the move to develop the 200MW power plant came after the first step last June, when subsidiary Andaman Power and Utility Co (APU) signed a contract with the Tanintharyi regional government to supply electricity and develop the 20MW gas project in Dawei.