Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dam critics unswayed

Dam critics unswayed

A part of the Mekong River where the Don Sahong dam project would be constructed in southern Laos
A part of the Mekong River where the Don Sahong dam project would be constructed in southern Laos. RIVERS INTERNATIONAL

Dam critics unswayed

Cambodian environmental groups yesterday stepped up their calls for the Don Sahong dam in Laos to be cancelled, after a visit to the site failed to convince them the hydropower project would not harm the Mekong River and the people who depend on it.

“We ask our government to consider how our people will be impacted by this dam and to work with the other three countries of the Lower Mekong to reconsider the 12 mainstream dams,” Youk Senglong, program manager at Fisheries Action Coalition Team said during a press conference yesterday.

Set to be built less than two kilometres north of the Laos-Cambodia border, the 260-megawatt Don Sahong has drawn ire from environmental advocates, who say it could spell disaster for the Mekong.

Laos this week hosted a second site visit aimed at winning over stakeholders, but the opponents were no less worried.

“The Lao government is talking politics, not science,” said Tek Vannara, executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia.

NGO Forum yesterday echoed conservation group World Wildlife Fund’s recent reports on the Don Sahong, which criticise Laos’s second hydropower project for lacking scientific evaluation of impacts on downstream countries and for threatening the already critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin.

“The [project’s] consultant said he would try to make sure the two channels beside the project will work as alternative fish passages, but ‘try’ is not enough,” Vannara said. “Cambodians depend on the fish from the Hou Sahong channel, which the dam would block.”

Project developers have maintained the Hou Sahong is not the only channel through which fish can migrate upstream to spawn. But Vanarra recalled previous scientific studies that have predicted the adjacent channels are too narrow or too shallow and rocky.

Senglong said villagers relying on the fisheries didn’t believe the developer’s party line either, and starting on March 28, communities in Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Cham provinces will go on a three-day march against the Don Sahong and Xayaburi dams.

“The Cambodia government has a responsibility to their people – they need to take action against this project,” Vannara said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a