Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Intervention urged for dam

Intervention urged for dam

Women travel past the planned site of the Don Sahong hydropower dam on the Mekong River in southern Laos
Women travel past the planned site of the Don Sahong hydropower dam on the Mekong River in southern Laos. INTERNATIONAL RIVERS

Intervention urged for dam

In anticipation of a regional summit this weekend, government officials and civil society have their sights locked on a controversial hydropower development just across the Cambodian border in Laos.

NGO Forum submitted an open letter yesterday urging Prime Minister Hun Sen to confront Laos about its Don Sahong hydropower project, which environmentalists have described as a potential disaster for the Mekong’s biodiversity and the food security the river provides to millions.

The letter contains more than 400 thumbprints collected during a march against the dam last weekend. “We hope these thumbprints motivate the leader, as they are the evidence of direct victims from this dam,” Tek Vannara, executive director of NGO Forum, said.

The last-minute plea for action comes just days before the 2nd Summit of the Mekong River Commission in Ho Chi Minh City, where prime ministers from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are expected to discuss transboundary cooperation and sustainable development in the Lower Mekong Basin.

Since the first summit in 2010, conservationists have expressed concern that it – and the regional cooperation it purportedly assists – is on the verge of collapse, with Laos unilaterally going ahead with work on the first two mainstream hydropower dams, Don Sahong and Xayaburi.

“Rather than taking steps forward in the sustainable management of the Mekong River, we have taken a leap backwards, leaving the region at even greater risk,” Pianporn Deetes, Thailand campaigns coordinator for International Rivers, said in a statement released yesterday.

Preceding Saturday’s summit, the commission is hosting a conference during which the Cambodian delegation is expected to stage an intervention and demand the Don Sahong project be redesigned with downstream impact in mind, according to Conservation International.

Such a move by the delegation is urged by international groups that hope government leaders will agree to postpone mainstream projects during the summit.

“It is critical that Mekong leaders . . . issue a declaration condemning dams on the Mekong mainstream,” International Rivers’ Southeast Asia coordinator Ame Trandem said. “If the summit becomes nothing more than a public relations exercise at the expense of the millions of people in the Mekong region who depend on the river, the international community must work with leaders to find a new platform for regional cooperation and improved decision-making on the mainstream dams.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all