Request for Clarifications on the Prior Consultation for the Xayaburi Dam

Key Issues: 

Save the Mekong 20 April 2012

On 20 April 2012, the Save the Mekong coalition sent letters to the Mekong River Commission's Council Members and CEO requesting clarification on the prior consultation of the Xayaburi Dam. Read the letter to [Cambodia] [Laos] [Thailand] [Vietnam] [MRC CEO]

[http://www.savethemekong.org]

Mr. Hans Guttman

Chief Executive Officer

Mekong River Commission Secretariat

20 April 2012

Subject: Request for Clarifications on the Prior Consultation for the Xayaburi Dam

Dear Mr. Hans Guttman:

Four months after the MRC Ministerial Meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 8 December 2011,

the Save the Mekong coalition is encouraged that the MRC Member States and Secretariat are

designing “further study” on the impacts of hydropower development on the Mekong

Mainstream. However, we remain concerned about the ambiguities that have been left

unanswered with respect to the future of the Xayaburi Dam and other Mekong Mainstream

Dams.

 

To our knowledge, no agreement has been reached to close the prior consultation process on

the Xayaburi Dam, and no agreement has been reached on whether to approve the Xayaburi

Dam. The project developers have not conducted an assessment of the Xayaburi Dam’s

transboundary impacts, nor have they carried out further public consultation, as requested by

the MRC Member States during the April 2011 Joint Committee meeting. Much still needs to be

done to ensure that a decision on the Mekong Mainstream Dams will be well-informed by

scientific evidence and the opinion of the public.

 

Nevertheless, recent hearings in Thailand reveal that the Thai government and several Thai

companies continue to push forward with the project. A senior official of the Electricity

Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) who attended a 4 February 2012 Thai Senate Sub-

Committee hearing under the Thai Senate Standing Committee on Corruption Investigation and

Good Governance, on behalf of EGAT’s governor, confirmed that EGAT and the Xayaburi project

developer had signed a power purchase agreement on 29 October 2011. This violated the Thai

government’s own commitment not to sign such an agreement until after the four MRC

Member States agreed to close the prior consultation on the Xayaburi Dam.

Meanwhile, preliminary construction on the Xayaburi Dam has continued despite the lack of

regional agreement. At an investigation meeting of the National Human Rights Commission of

Thailand by the Sub-Committee of Community Rights and Natural Resources on 21 February

2012, the state-owned Krung Thai Bank and three private Thai banks confirmed that they had

already provided financing for the project after receiving permission from the Thai Cabinet. We

believe that such actions violate the 1995 Mekong Agreement and urge the Thai government to

immediately withdraw all involvement in the Xayaburi Dam.

In light of these developments, we request clarification from you on the following matters

before the 15th of May:

 

1. Has any agreement been reached to build the Xayaburi Dam? We request

confirmation that no agreement has been reached under the MRC or any

intergovernmental process to proceed with building the Xayaburi Dam.

 

2. Will construction on the Xayaburi Dam halt while the “further study” is

underway? If so, what action does the MRC plan to take to ensure that

construction work is halted? If all construction activities do not stop, it will not be

possible to gather the baseline data necessary to fully understand the impacts of

hydropower development on the Mekong Mainstream. Many of the impacts of the

Xayaburi Dam will be irreversible, including the loss of migratory fish species.

3. Will other Mekong Mainstream Dams be allowed to begin their own prior

consultation processes while the “further study” is underway? The further

study, if designed carefully, could allow better decision-making around the proposed

Mekong Mainstream Dams. Allowing other projects to be initiated before the study is

completed, however, will weaken the prior consultation process and undermine the

baseline data that still needs to be collected, therefore threatening the sustainability

of the Mekong River.

4. Will the “further study” include a review of the institutions and procedures that

govern the development of the Mekong River? In light of the procedural ambiguity

that has accompanied the proposed development of the Xayaburi Dam, the Save the

Mekong coalition strongly believes there is need for a discussion on how to

strengthen and clarify the regional institutions governing Mekong River development.

5. In what ways will the “further study” provide an opportunity for public

participation and input? The Save the Mekong coalition strongly believes that for

the study to be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the public, and to accurately reflect

what is at stake in the Mekong River Basin, there must be ample opportunities for

public consultation and input into the studies at the local, national and regional levels.

People throughout the region and internationally have long expressed their opposition to the

Mekong Mainstream Dams and have demanded that they be cancelled. In March 2012, more

than three hundred civil society representatives and dam-affected community members from

across ASEAN member countries signed a statement at the ASEAN People’s Forum calling for

cancellation of the Xayaburi Dam. Scientific evidence to date overwhelmingly supports our

position that these dams will cause significant and irreparable damage to the Mekong River and

the people who depend on it. We hope that the MRC’s prior consultation process and “further

study” will lead to a sound decision-making process based on robust scientific knowledge and

open public debate. We look forward to your prompt response.

Yours Sincerely,

Assembly of Sub-district Community Organizations in Amnacharoen Province, Thailand

Assembly of Sub-district Community Organizations in Bueng Khan Province, Thailand

Assembly of Sub-district Community Organizations in Loei Province, Thailand

Assembly of Sub-district Community Organizations in Mukdahan Province, Thailand

Assembly of Sub-district Community Organizations in Nakorn Phnom Province, Thailand

Assembly of Sub-district Community Organizations in Nong Kai Province, Thailand

Assembly of Sub-district Community Organizations in Ubon Ratchathani Province, Thailand

Both Ends, The Netherlands

Buddhist Association for Environmental Development, Cambodia

Cambodian Rural Development Team, Cambodia

Cambodian Volunteers for Society, Cambodia

Center for Social Research and Development, Vietnam

Center for Water Resources Conservation and Development (WARECOD), Vietnam

Chris Lang, Indonesia

Community Economic Development, Cambodia

Community Resource Centre, Thailand

Culture and Environmental Preservation Association, Cambodia

EarthRights International, USA

Fisheries Action Coalition Team, Cambodia

Foreningen for Internasjonale Vannstudier (FIVAS), Norway

Focus on the Global South, Thailand

Global Association for People and the Environment (GAPE), Canada

GreenID, Vietnam

HELVETAS, Laos

International Rivers, USA

Khmer Farmers Association, Cambodia

Khon Hak Namkong Community, Thailand

Living River Siam, Thailand

Manna Gum, Australia

Mekong-Lanna Natural Resources Conservation Network, Thailand

Mekong Monitor Tasmania, Australia

My Village, Cambodia

Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces, Thailand

NGO Forum on Cambodia, Cambodia

NGO Forum on the ADB, The Philippines

Palang Thai, Thailand

People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), Vietnam

Save the Vulnerables, Cambodia

The Corner House, United Kingdom

Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), Thailand

Vietnam Rivers Network, Vietnam

3S Rivers Protection Network, Cambodia

 

Copy to:

MRC Joint Committee Members

MRC Development Partners