Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vietnam slams Don Sahong

Vietnam slams Don Sahong

A man pilots a boat along a river
A man pilots a boat along a river where construction workers build a bridge for the controversial Don Sahong dam site in southern Laos earlier this year. INTERNATIONAL RIVER

Vietnam slams Don Sahong

As lower Mekong countries prepare final evaluations of Laos’ contentious Don Sahong dam for a regional assessment next month, Vietnam launched a preemptive broadside at the project this week.

During a conference in Hanoi on Monday, the Vietnamese National Mekong Committee said the 260-megawatt project would block the river’s flow, which in turn would disrupt the passage of migratory fish, damage the local ecological environment and negatively impact the livelihood of locals, according to Vietnamese media.

Committee deputy spokesman Nguyen Hong Phuong put it bluntly: few fish could survive the dam.

At a concurrent meeting also assessing the project’s impacts in Can Tho, waterways experts forecasted a bleak future for the Mekong Delta if the hydropower dam moves ahead.

Due to a change in sediment flow and fish migratory patterns, the dam will deal a blow to lower areas of the river like the Mekong Delta, where farmers could see severe crop damage, Phan Thanh Long, from the Aquaculture Research Institute, reportedly said.

Briefing notes from an ongoing review of the dam by five expert groups preliminarily agreed that more studies are needed.

“At present there is insufficient information to assess whether this is viable,” read the briefing notes, which were presented at a meeting in Laos earlier this month.

The experts allege that the developers of Don Sahong have attempted to design mitigation measures while missing critical information.

“A large fish passage project needs a biological baseline, including the species and sizes of fish,” it reads, while also noting that “insufficient attention has been paid to potential cross border impacts on fisher communities in Cambodia”.

“A lot of the conclusions point to a lack of information and concrete, scientific data,” said Te Navuth, secretary of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee. “If I could, I would make all the [Mekong River Commission] member countries see that there is a need for further study. The project should delay for two to three years at least, until there is a fuller evaluation of the impacts.”

During questioning at the National Assembly yesterday, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology and head of Cambodia’s committee Lim Kean Hor also reiterated the call for more analysis.

“We Cambodians still demand Laos, as the owner of Don Sahong dam, provide us with the report of evaluating the effects of the dam on us,” he said.

Cambodia’s national committee is set to provide its full conclusions on the dam later this month.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY TAING VIDA

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,