Bangkok Admits Inability to Regulate New Lao Dam

25 July 2016 | The Nation
 
The Water Resources Department has admitted it is beyond the Thai government’s power to challenge the Pak Beng Dam project in Laos and the only way to review the project is through the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
 
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)'s sub-committee on community rights has arranged a meeting on Friday focusing on human rights violations regarding the upcoming hydropower dam projects on the Mekong and Salween rivers.
 
People who are concerned about transboundary impacts of the dams and relevant agencies are invited to submit information to the sub committee.
 
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However, people from Chiang Rai have protested limiting action to only the PNPCA procedure and urged for strict new rules to regulate projects on the mainstream Mekong River.
 
"We do not trust the MRC anymore. We need a new mechanism that can thoroughly inspect projects and have the power to stop harmful [ones]. The PNPCA procedure is just a stamp to approve the projects. It cannot really protect our international river from harmful development," Rak Chiang Khong Conservation Group chairman Niwat Roikaew said. He added that project owners should have to pay compensation for damage caused by projects but in reality dam projects are underway across the Lower Mekong Region at an unstoppable rate making it impossible to find out which dams caused damage and who should be compensated.
 
"The damage from the dams to river ecology is irreversible and the livelihood of people will be destroyed forever if we do nothing to stop those dams," he said.