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Activists warn on Laos dam

A UNITED States-based environmental watchdog claims a new hydropower dam in Laos continues to affect more than 100,000 people, a week before it is to be officially inaugurated.

In a statement issued yesterday, International Rivers said next week’s inauguration of the Nam Theun 2 dam should be used to question claims from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, who helped fund the project, that it had been a success.

“The Nam Theun 2’s promoters are all too keen to call the project a success, but many problems remain,” said Ikuko Matsumodo, the IR’s Lao programme director, in the statement.

The Nam Theun 2 project, on Laos’ Nam Theun River, began commercial operations in March. A raft of hydropower projects are also planned for Cambodia, where they have raised similar environmental and social concerns.

Speaking at a climate change meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday, Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun said the construction of dams on the Mekong River –  two projects have been mooted for the river’s mainstream inside Cambodia – could interrupt annual fish migrations.

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