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Xayaburi dam nearly half done

Construction of the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River in Laos is almost half finished, the developer behind it has said.

Prasert Marittanaporn, senior vice president of the construction firm Ch. Karnchang, told the Bangkok Post late last week that the $3.8 billion hydropower project – which conservation groups fear will have grave effects on communities downstream – is now 45 per cent built. A public relations representative for the project declined to comment on this figure yesterday.

Laos began building Xayaburi in late 2012 without required approval from fellow Mekong River Commission (MRC) states, including Cambodia.

The MRC is now engaging in public consultation sessions in Cambodia about the construction of another controversial dam in Laos – the Don Sahong.

“We don’t talk about Xayaburi anymore,” said Te Navuth, secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Mekong Committee (CNMC), which is part of the MRC.

Laos has agreed to prior consultation, which will allow more research into the dam’s effects. But critics, including International Rivers, are concerned more defiance from Laos could render the process meaningless.

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