NGOs Urge Mekong Governments to Abort Xayaburi Dam Project

OOSKAnews 29 March 2011

By OOSKAnews Correspondent

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Two hundred and sixty-three non-governmental organizations from 51 countries have submitted a letter urging the prime ministers of Laos and Thailand to scrap the proposed Xayaburi Dam on the mainstream Mekong in northern Laos.

The letter urges the Lao PDR government to abandon its plan to build the project now. The letter also asks the Thai government to end plans to import electricity from the Xayaburi Dam.

The letter came ahead of the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) 33rd Joint Committee Meeting, scheduled for March 25-26 in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. There, the four member countries -- Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam -- were to make an initial decision on whether to pursue the dam.

“As a river of global significance, we are urging the governments of Laos and Thailand to call a stop to the destructive Xayaburi Dam,” said Pieter Jansen, a spokesman for the sustainable environmental management group Both Ends.

“If the project proceeds, the MRC’s regional decision-making process will lose all public credibility through its complete disregard for the dam’s massive public opposition.  It will also demonstrate that decision-making has not been based on holistic river basin management despite the compelling scientific evidence of the dam’s impact to the Mekong River’s ecosystem and the millions of people who depend on it for their livelihoods and food security,” Jansen said.

“The dam’s Environmental Impact Assessment report, released [in mid-March] ago, is totally inadequate,” said Mekong campaigner Ame Trandem, a spokeswoman for International Rivers.

“It lacks basic yet critical technical information, is riddled with analytical flaws, and fails to consider trans-boundary impacts, despite other MRC-commissioned reports demonstrating that the dam’s high environmental and social impacts will be irreversible and will be felt basin-wide.

“Given the quality of the EIA and the anticipated impacts, if this project were to go ahead it would be unimaginably irresponsible,” Trandem said.