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

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does