Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Laos only ‘surveying’ Xayaburi

Laos only ‘surveying’ Xayaburi

Laos only ‘surveying’ Xayaburi

120709_03

Equipment parked near the construction site of a controversial dam that is under construction in Laos’s Xayaburi province earlier this year. Photograph: International Rivers

Laos has denied it is pushing forward with the controversial Xayaburi hydropower dam in violation of international legal obligations, the country’s state media reported on Friday.

Conservation groups have said photos and interviews with villagers clearly demonstrate that Thai firm Ch.Karnchang Public Company Ltd is engaged in much more than “preparatory” works as Laos has claimed.

Laos Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Viraphonh Viravong told the Vientiane Times daily that only “sub-surface surveying” had commenced on the project, not dredging of the river bank as claimed by the group International Rivers.

“We plan to invite development partners and Mekong River Commission member countries to visit the project site so they can see the actual development for themselves,” he said.

Te Navuth, secretary-general of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee, said it was plain to see the company had begun work that went beyond exploration, including dredging.

“I don’t want to argue about this; they always say something else, but we can see,” he said.

Navuth said Laos should join a study on the downstream impact dams on the mainstream Mekong river that Cambodia and Vietnam agreed to conduct in a Memorandum of Understanding signed on Tuesday.

The governments agreed to a large-scale study of the impact upstream dams have on the lower Mekong river basin, including the Tonle Sap river system and the Mekong Delta.

Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia program director of International Rivers, said the study would take three years and could not save the Mekong from serious damage if construction on the Xayaburi continued.

“What needs to happen now is that Thailand and their company Ch.Karnchang ... need to agree with the government of Laos to stop construction of the Xayaburi,” she said.

Under a 1995 agreement with Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, Laos was obligated to not begin construction without a prior notification and prior consultation agreement between the four countries, which has not been completed.

“If Laos decides to go ahead with Xayaburi, it would be violating this agreement and thereby violating international law,” she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Boyle
With assistance from Reuters

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,