Thai Government Urged to Cancel Agreement to Buy Power from Xayaburi Dam and Pending Further Impacts Assessment

23 July 2012

Public Statement by the Thai People’s Network in Eight Mekong Provinces

Lawsuit to be Filed with the Administrative Court on 7 August

In October 2011, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Xayaburi Power Co., Ltd. to buy power generated by the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River in Lao PDR. This agreement was signed, despite the fact that no public consultation or transboundary impact assessment has been carried out for the project. Furthermore, the dam has also failed to obtain regional agreement by Mekong River Commission member countries, as is required by the 1995 Mekong Agreement. We hereby urge Thailand to cancel the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) until the project abides by national and international law.

Previously, both the governments of Vietnam and Cambodia expressed their concern over the dam’s transboundary impacts toward downstream countries and requested that further studies be conducted. Meanwhile, executives of Ch Karnchang Public Company Limited and Xayaburi Power Co., Ltd. have told the press that the design of the dam has been altered to avert the impacts and that any additional impact studies will not affect the planned construction schedule.  The companies’ efforts to re-design the dam are invalid as the companies have yet to complete the necessary baseline studies of the river, which are necessary for first understanding the dam’s impacts.  Until necessary studies are undertaken, all mitigation measures being offered remain unproven and risk jeopardizing the Mekong River’s health and ecosystems,

With an installed capacity of 1,285 megawatts, the project costs more than $3.5 billion and has been pushed forward by Ch Karnchang PCL., with financial support from at least four commercial banks in Thailand, including Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Krung Thai Bank, and Kasikorn Bank. The PPA has been signed by EGAT to import 95% of the power produced by the dam into Thailand.  A recent report that was endorsed by more than 140 civil society organizations entitled Power Development Plan 2012 has demonstrated that Thailand does not need the electricity from the Xayaburi Dam and other destructive energy projects planned in the region.The Xayaburi Dam Project has been debated at the regional level for years. It is widely reported that the construction of the Xayaburi Dam has failed to garner consent from four Mekong riparian countries including Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam. Under the 1995 Mekong Agreement, the four member countries must reach a joint decision under the Procedures for Prior Notification, Consultation and Agreement (“PNPCA”) before the project can go forward. PNPCA requires that member countries inform and consult with  representatives from the four governments should they want to develop any large scale project (including hydropower projects and dams) on the Mekong River’s mainstream.. To date, the four member countries have not yet reached a decision on whether to proceed with the project.

Recent investigations at the dam site show that construction is nevertheless continuing. On July 16-17, Lao government organized a field trip to the Mekong for an international delegation. The delegation observed a number of activities that are underway along and within the Mekong River. Additional investigations by the media revealed that a large gravel based dyke is being built across a section of the Mekong River. This creates skepticism towards the public statements of the Lao government. The Lao government insisted that no construction has started, and told the delegation that it would not conduct a transboundary impact assessment because it did not believe the dam would have any transboundary impacts, despite the fact that Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam have requested such an assessment.

The Thai  People’s  Network of Eight Mekong Provinces has been monitoring the situation and expressing our concern regarding the dam’s negative impacts , particularly on the river’s ecology, migration of Mekong fish, fish biodiversity, food security, income, livelihoods and cultural heritage of communities living in Thailand and along the river basin.

We, the Thai People’s Network of Eight Mekong Provinces, urge the Thai government to cancel the PPA signed between EGAT and the Xayaburi Power Co., Ltd. and to ensure that an assessment be further conducted as to any transboundary impacts the project might have on the environment, society, economy, and health. In addition, the process of notification and public hearing to receive input from various parties should be comprehensively conducted, particularly among people whose livelihoods are dependent on the river basin and who shall bear direct impacts of the project. Failing to do these shall be tantamount to breaches of obligations as to the duties to uphold rights provided for in Thailand’s Constitution and other domestic laws. Apart from infringing on domestic laws, allowing projects which are slated to cause grave and irreversible impacts to go on with no proper impacts studies and no public consultation is also a violation of international laws and standards.

If the PPA is not cancelled, we, will have to resort to filing a lawsuit with the Administrative Court in order to halt the project and it shall be done so on 7 August 2012.

Thai People’s Network of Eight Mekong Provinces