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Dam’s consultation process concludes

Boats dock on the bank of the Mekong River in northern Laos early last year at the planned construction site for the Pak Beng dam.
Boats dock on the bank of the Mekong River in northern Laos early last year at the planned construction site for the Pak Beng dam. International Rivers

Dam’s consultation process concludes

The consultation process for the controversial proposed Pak Beng dam in Laos concluded on Monday, allowing construction to begin even as local and international civil society groups continued to urge a delay until a forthcoming Mekong River Commission (MRC) environmental assessment is released later this year.

The MRC’s Joint Committee held a session on Monday to formally conclude the prior-consultation process, according to a press release that also called on Laos to “make all reasonable efforts to address potential adverse transboundary impacts”.

“Measures for consideration in the statement include ad-dressing the potential upstream and downstream impacts . . . and MRC joint monitoring programme for Pak Beng,” reads the statement issued by the committee, which represents all four MRC countries – Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.

The conclusion of the consultation process comes just days after environmental group International Rivers said there were still “significant outstanding concerns regarding the quality of studies and information relied on during the Prior Consultation to assess environmental and social impacts on the Mekong River”.

Cambodia’s NGO Forum expressed similar concerns at a meeting on the dam in Phnom Penh last week.

A representative of the MRC secretariat said in an email yesterday that the committee could have extended the consultation process but none was requested by any of its member states.

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