Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Xayaburi dam not on MRC's agenda

Xayaburi dam not on MRC's agenda

Xayaburi dam not on MRC's agenda

130117 02a
The Xayaburi dam, the construction site of which is shown above, was not on the agenda of the Mekong River Commission’s annual general meeting. Photograph: International Rivers

As construction of the Xayaburi dam continued and reports surfaced of groundwork being laid on other mainstream dam projects in Laos, the Mekong River Commission (MRC)’s annual general meeting began yesterday without these issues on the agenda.

Representatives from the four member countries – Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam – discussed hydro power in broad terms and sustainable water management, according to its agenda, but as expected, did not broach the issue of Xayaburi and the MRC’s prior consultation process, which Xayaburi’s construction undermined.

Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of NGO Forum on Cambodia, said the meeting in Luang Prabang, Laos, which will continue today, was an opportunity for the government to speak up about Xayaburi, which Thai developer Ch. Karnchang began building for Laos in November.

“Regional governments hold the power to prevent the tragedy... that will likely occur if the Xayaburi and other Mekong mainstream dams move forward,” he said.

“We are appealing to regional governments and donors to ensure that a review of the prior consultation process is conducted before any other projects move forward to prevent other projects from following the same problematic path [as] the Xayaburi dam.”

Environmental group International Rivers, which says preliminary work for other mainstream hydro dam projects has begun, released a report this week accusing Laos of breaching the 1995 Mekong agreement and others.

“The MRC’s [hydropower dam prior consultation agreement] prohibits a government from implementing a project while the prior consultation is underway,” the reports states.

“Similarly, international law also prohibits project implementation while the prior consultation is underway.”

Other groups including the WWF voiced concerns over the agenda, while a group of Thai politicians wrote to Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urging her delegation to raise Xayaburi in the MRC meeting.

Statements from member countries and donors are expected today.

Surasak Glahan, communications officer with the MRC secretariat, said Xayaburi was not raised yesterday, but the prior consultation process would be mentioned today.

“There will be a presentation and discussion on the implementation of the MRC’s five procedures including the PNPCA and its prior consultation. The member countries and the development partners can raise the issue... should they wish to,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • All foreigners' accommodations to be inspected: Sar Kheng

    The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers. Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • NBC eyes KHQR payments in Laos, Vietnam

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is working with Lao and Vietnamese authorities to expand the use of KHQR code cross-border payment systems to promote trade and investment as well as increase the scope of regional economic linkages, and in particular, facilitate remittances from overseas