Environmental group says proposed dams can damage Mekong River

AHN News Writer 14 November 2007

By Nidhi Sharma 

Bangkok, Thailand (AHN) - Bangkok-based environmental group on Tuesday warned that the six proposed dams could damage the Mekong River. It would displace up to 75,000 villagers and uproot habitats of hundreds of species like the endangered giant catfish and Irrawaddy dolphin, the group warned.

Premrudee Daoroung, director of environmental group Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliances (TERRA), China, Thailand and Vietnam have revised 13-year-old plans to build four dams in Laos and one each in Thailand and Cambodia. The nations hope to find new energy sources for their growing economies.

The Associated Press quotes Premrudee as saying, "The natural flow of the river will all be completely changed."

"Of course, it will affect all the vegetation and fish on the river. Many species of fish will be lost because the river will become shallower and some parts may have no water at all during the dry season," he added.

Mekong River already face threats from pollution, climate change and the effects of dams that were built in China and now the environmentalists believe that the proposed dams would add further pressure to the rivers by causing a drop in water levels.

The Mekong River Commission has been urged to take a public stance on the dam projects at its annual meeting starting Thursday in Cambodia. The commission comprises of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand and is tasked with managing navigation and development along the river.

They also called on the commission to release any studies or surveys on the six dams' effects on the river, which runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.