Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Xayaburi dam 30% finished, says Laos

Xayaburi dam 30% finished, says Laos

Xayaburi dam 30% finished, says Laos

Laos’s controversial Xayaburi dam is 30 per cent built, its government has told the Post.

Deputy Energy and Mines Minister Viraponh Viravong said the project – which Laos began work on without regional approval in November 2012 – remains on track to be functioning in 2019.

“The project is currently 30 percent complete, and proceeding on time and on budget,” Viravong said in an email.

The $3.8 billion dam, on the Mekong mainstream in the country’s north, is the first of about 10 dams Laos has planned for the river and which conservation groups warn will decimate Cambodia’s fish stocks.

But Viravong defended the dam, saying hydropower “is a natural choice for Laos”.

“It’s sustainable and can continue to bring benefits to our people for decades to come.”

Laos, Viravong added, has over the past 50 years “built an enviable record of achievement in developing environmentally and socially sustainable hydropower projects in accordance with our laws, decrees and globally accepted standards”.

But its government has been accused of being a law unto itself. When Laos broke ground on Xayaburi, fellow Mekong River Commission member states Cambodia and Vietnam were still asking it to assess potential trans-boundary effects. Under the 1995 Mekong Agreement, Laos must have the blessing of its co-members before it can build on the mainstream.

Thailand, the fourth MRC member and the country set to buy most of Xayaburi’s electricity, has remained relatively quiet about the 1,285-megawatt dam – which is being built by Thai developer CH. Karnchang.

Viravong said Laos would continue with its hydropower vision out of “duty” to overcome poverty and said it had the World Bank on its side.

“The World Bank has recently underscored the wisdom of using large-scale hydropower projects to create renewable energy, spur economic growth and social progress, and alleviate poverty in the least developed countries.”

But a World Bank spokesperson in Cambodia yesterday said the bank did not support the Xayaburi dam. In 2010, the World Bank said it would not invest in or finance projects on Mekong’s mainstream.

Last May, the bank said it was recommitting to large-scale hydropower development in Southeast Asia, without mentioning the Mekong.

Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia program director for conservation group International Rivers, said steps could still be taken to prevent Xayaburi from causing irreparable damage, but time “is running out”.

“There is still essentially one year left to stop the dam, as construction on the Xayaburi Dam’s final dam across the Mekong River will begin in February 2015,” she said.

“With the Mekong Summit approaching [next month], it’s critical that the Mekong countries rise up to their commitments and demand that Laos stop all further construction until … mitigation measures can be proven to work.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a