Vientiane Times 9 June 2011
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
At a cost of US$90 million, construction of the Nam Mang 1 hydropower plant in Borikhamxay province is expected to begin shortly.
A final report on the project will be sent to the government for approval soon, Deputy Head of the Water Resources and Environment Authority (WREA) Mr Noulin Sinbandhit said yesterday.
Mr Noulin was speaking at a provincial consultation workshop on the environmental and social impact assessment report of the project held in Vientiane.
“Our discussions here will help to finalise the report and facilitate the start of construction as soon as possible,” he added.
The meeting sought consultation on the project's environmental and social management plans.
According to WREA, the Nam Mang 1 hydropower plant will take about three and a half years to construct.
Laos and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007 to build the plant, a joint venture between the two countries.
About 300 hectares of forests will be flooded when the dam is built, Mr Noulin said, adding that some areas of the Phoukhaokhuay National Protected Area will be closed.
About 90 families of about 500 people living along the Mang River will be affected by the project. The river forms the border between Borikhamxay and Vientiane provinces, although the project site is located in Borikhamxay.
Families living in Hom district in Vientiane province and Thaphabath district in Borikhamxay province may be affected by the project.
Environmental and social management plans have already been approved at the village and district levels and Wednesday's meeting was the final step in the process before a final project report, including the plans, is submitted to the government for approval.
A consultant from the KHIDI Company of China, Mr Yu Hao Miao, said the Nam Mang 1 plant will have an installed capacity of 64 megawatts.
“The project will help to reduce poverty in Laos and facilitate the country's modernisation. The main benefits for Laos are the development of infrastructure and more energy for use by local people and businesses.”
“The project will also build a new 16 km road in Borikhamxay province,” he said.
The project will have a budget of US$347,000 for environmental protection and funds of US$456,000 to spend on social development activities, according to Mr Yu Hao Miao.