Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Intervention urged for dam

Intervention urged for dam

Women travel past the planned site of the Don Sahong hydropower dam on the Mekong River in southern Laos
Women travel past the planned site of the Don Sahong hydropower dam on the Mekong River in southern Laos. INTERNATIONAL RIVERS

Intervention urged for dam

In anticipation of a regional summit this weekend, government officials and civil society have their sights locked on a controversial hydropower development just across the Cambodian border in Laos.

NGO Forum submitted an open letter yesterday urging Prime Minister Hun Sen to confront Laos about its Don Sahong hydropower project, which environmentalists have described as a potential disaster for the Mekong’s biodiversity and the food security the river provides to millions.

The letter contains more than 400 thumbprints collected during a march against the dam last weekend. “We hope these thumbprints motivate the leader, as they are the evidence of direct victims from this dam,” Tek Vannara, executive director of NGO Forum, said.

The last-minute plea for action comes just days before the 2nd Summit of the Mekong River Commission in Ho Chi Minh City, where prime ministers from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are expected to discuss transboundary cooperation and sustainable development in the Lower Mekong Basin.

Since the first summit in 2010, conservationists have expressed concern that it – and the regional cooperation it purportedly assists – is on the verge of collapse, with Laos unilaterally going ahead with work on the first two mainstream hydropower dams, Don Sahong and Xayaburi.

“Rather than taking steps forward in the sustainable management of the Mekong River, we have taken a leap backwards, leaving the region at even greater risk,” Pianporn Deetes, Thailand campaigns coordinator for International Rivers, said in a statement released yesterday.

Preceding Saturday’s summit, the commission is hosting a conference during which the Cambodian delegation is expected to stage an intervention and demand the Don Sahong project be redesigned with downstream impact in mind, according to Conservation International.

Such a move by the delegation is urged by international groups that hope government leaders will agree to postpone mainstream projects during the summit.

“It is critical that Mekong leaders . . . issue a declaration condemning dams on the Mekong mainstream,” International Rivers’ Southeast Asia coordinator Ame Trandem said. “If the summit becomes nothing more than a public relations exercise at the expense of the millions of people in the Mekong region who depend on the river, the international community must work with leaders to find a new platform for regional cooperation and improved decision-making on the mainstream dams.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,