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Coalition weighs in on China’s dam plans

THE Rivers Coalition in Cambodia (RCC), an alliance of local environmental groups, has added its voice to a chorus of regional concerns about the likely downstream impact of eight hydropower dam projects planned in China, saying they will have negative effects on Cambodian fisheries.

“The result of a joint observation by international scientists showed that currently there are no measures to reduce the impact the dams have on fisheries and resources in the lower Mekong,” the RCC said in a statement Saturday.

The statement was released in response to the recent Mekong River Commission summit, held in Thailand on April 4 and 5, where the prime ministers of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, along with delegates from China and Myanmar, jointly vowed to devote greater attention to the preservation of the river basin.

Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, said Sunday that previous knowledge about the development of dams in Cambodia and other countries suggested that the series along the Mekong would severely affect the livelihoods of people living in communities along the river.

“When a dam is built it affects the fish and so the people who rely on the fish are also affected,” he said.

He added that power generation is vital to Cambodia, but suggested the government try to develop alternative forms of energy, citing solar power and methane as examples.

“We do hope that the government will consider our recommendations,” he said.

A report released last week by the Henry L Stimson Centre said that the US$5 billion Sambor Dam project in Kratie province and the US$300 million Don Sahong dam project in Laos – both planned for the Mekong mainstream – are an even greater threat to food security and livelihoods than similar projects in China.

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