(Translation from Thai Language)
5 January 2015
Re: Lao PDR's Don Sahong Hydropower Project and PNPCA Process
To: Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand
Ref: Department of Water Resources' letter no. MONRE.0630/Circ.695 Re: Invitation to A Meeting on Lao PDR's Don Sahong Hydropower Project As Part of the PNPCA Process, sent on 26 December 2014.
On the occasion of the Department of Water Resources'--acting as the Secretary of the Thai National Mekong Committee--sixth national meeting on Lao PDR's Don Sahong Hydropower Project, on 7 January 2015, as part of the Procedure for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement process (PNPCA), Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), under the Foundation of Ecological Recovery (FER), as an organization who has been monitoring hydropower project developments in the Mekong Region for the past 25 years and a member of the Save the Mekong Coalition, refuses to participate in the meeting. We hereby express our concerns:
1. We believe that the first PNPCA process conducted for the Xayaburi Hydropower Project between 2010-2011 was a complete failure. The process held only 4 public meetings in Thailand. In addition, the meetings were not up to Thailand's standards or abide by the nation's laws. The public who took part in the meeting and many civil organizations all insisted their opposition to the Xayaburi Dam. Notwithstanding, the report submitted to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Joint Committee, prepared by the Department of Water Resources, was vague, obscure, and confusing; it failed to clearly deliver many key concerns expressed by the civil society groups. What is more devastating was the MRC Joint Committee's failure to reinforce the PNPCA process. Despite extensive opposing voices, both Thai and Lao governments and Thai investors successfully signed the power purchase agreement (PPA) and started the construction of the controversial Xayaburi Dam.
2. We oppose the construction of the Don Sahong Dam. The Don Sahong Dam will destroy the unique ecosystems of Siphandone in southern Lao PDR and imperils the Mekong Region. The Don Sahong Dam, if built, will block Hou Sahong--the most critical water channel and most diverse fish migration route of the Mekong River that feeds the world's largest freshwater fishery. The Don Sahong Dam will also jeopardize rare aquatic species like the Mekong giant Catfish, striped barb, and the Irrawaddy dolphins.
To divert more water into Hou Sahong, the construction of the Don Sahong Dam will need to dredge over 2 million cubic meters of sediments from the riverbed. This simply spells a complete devastation of the entire area of Siphandone. Considering the impacts and the installed capacity of 260-MW of the project, the benefits of the project would be incomparable to the irreversible damages on the ecosystems and detrimental impacts on local fishery and the livelihoods of millions of people in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The capacity and power generated by the Don Sahong Dam will supply less than 1 percent of Thailand's current electricity capacity. This means that the power from Don Sahong Dam contributes nothing to Thailand's power security. On the other hand, there are many alternatives that prove more efficient and sustainable.
The Don Sahong Dam, if built, will pose a great threat to the sustainable development and peaceful coexistence of countries in the Mekong Region and Southeast Asia.
3. The Department of Water Resources and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, as the representatives of Thai government and the Thai people to the Mekong River Commission, have the duty to protect the interests of the people they represent and prevent any development project that may negatively impact or violate the rights of the people to natural resources and their livelihoods, especially those residing in the Mekong River Basin.
The report from the previous 5 meetings must truly reflect the majority's opposition to the Don Sahong Dam. In addition to the report, the Department of Water Resources must compile all documents released by civil society groups that contain information related to the Don Sahong Dam. These documents should be publicly available and sent to Lao PDR and other Mekong countries through a transparent process with timelines and channels for the people to verify--should there be any discrepancy. The aforementioned failures of Xayaburi Dam should not be repeated.
Please be informed of our position and opposition to the aforementioned project.
Co-director, Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance
Foundation for Ecological Recovery
CC: Director of the Department of Water Resources
Download the letter
Download the invitation from Dept. of Water Resources