Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Questions over Laos dam

Questions over Laos dam

Questions over Laos dam

120723_03
A boat passes near a large gravel-based dyke which is being built across a section of the Mekong River in Xayaburi province, Laos. Photograph: Bangkok Post

A decision on whether to build the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River in northern Laos is a life and death one that will affect Cambodians downstream, according to Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Namhong said the controversial 1,260-megawatt hydropower dam has the potential to threaten fish numbers in the Mekong, a problem that would affect Cambodian communities who rely on the river for their livelihood.

The dam could also limit the number of fish that make it to the Tonle Sap river, he said.

“As you know, when there are floods, fish flow from the Mekong to the Tonle Sap river,” said Namhong. “Fish on the Tonle Sap [are] very important for the Cambodian people, so Cambodia has paid much attention to the construction of [Xayaburi]."

“We have already informed the government of Laos about the consequences,” he added.

The comments came amid conflicting reports about how much construction is going on at the Xayaburi site in Laos’ north.

The Laos government claims that only preparatory work has been carried out, but journalists who visited Xayaburi recently reported seeing a one-metre high gravel dyke that has been constructed more than halfway across most of the river.

“A small longtail boat cannot pass as the current around the channel is strong,” a boatman in the area told them.

Surasak Glahan, communications officer with the Mekong River Commission secretariat in Laos, told the Post last week that no structure had been built on the river itself. But he added later that it was “too premature to give [an] immediate in-depth reflection of what we observed”.

Laos’ deputy minister of Energy and Mines, Viraphonh Viravong, denied yesterday that he had lied about the status.

“There have been media reports that we have halted the project,” he said. “That’s the biggest misunderstanding. We have not carried out the work and then halted, as we never started any construction. And we have never given a permit for such construction.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected]
Shane Worrell at [email protected]
With assistance from Bangkok Post

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially