World green groups will fight Lao dam across Mekong

The Nation 6 October 2010 

By Janjira Pongrai

Environmental and conservation networks in six countries have vowed to fight a big dam planned across the Mekong River at Sayabouri in Laos.

"We have been gathering signatures of people who are against this dam," Thailand's Chiang Khong Conservation Group leader Niwat Roykaew said at an international meeting in Mexico.

"We will fight to the end because the dam will cause huge trouble to so many people".

He spoke at an international meeting of dam-affected people and their allies in the city of Temacapulin.

Laos recently gave official notice to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its plan to construct the Xayaburi dam.

Jeremy bird, chief executive officer of the MRC secretariat, said recently he would tell all country members of the matter and encourage them to find a mutual conclusion.

The 260-megawatt electric dam is expected to disrupt the lives of millions of people who live downstream from the proposed site, near the town of Luang Prabang, if it goes ahead.

The Mekong is one of the world's major rivers - stretching 4,350 kilometres from China, through Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Niwat lamented yesterday that a handful of people had used their money and power to manage rivers for their benefit at great cost to large numbers of others.

He said four dams on the Mekong River in China had already caused a crisis and the Xayaburi dam would make the situation even worse.

Speaking at the same meeting, International Rivers Network executive director Patrick McCully, said many dams had been dismantled in North America and Europe after people became aware of the dams' adverse impacts on the environment and ecology.