A PLAN to dam the neck of Cambodia's great lake, the Tonle Sap, and massive dam
development along the length of the Mekong river could destroy one of the
world's natural wonders - the reversing of the Tonle Sap river, warns one
In the rainy season the Mekong floods, inundating
the Tonle Sap river so that it reverses its seaward flow back to the
The lake - whose fisheries and other natural resources are crucial
to the survival of millions of people - expands its capacity from three to as
much as six times that of its dry season levels.
The natural phenomenon
has been celebrated since ancient times in Khmer culture with annual water
The Tonle Sap dam, though probably far into the future, is one
of twelve dams now on the drawing board before the Mekong River
"The government has no idea. The Ministry of Environment are
concerned but it is not really strong enough to debate it," Agriculture and
Fisheries Ministry adviser Touch Seang Tana said.
"The Ministry of
Industry wants to push, they want the [hydroelectric] power," he said. "If the
mouth of the great lake is blocked, the water from the Mekong will not be able
to get there," he said.
"The great lake is like a flood regulator of the
Mekong. Whole areas could be wiped out in flooding," Tana said. Damage to the
environment, forestry and fisheries would be massive if the dams were to
proceed, he said.