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Mekong River Commission passes the buck on Don Sahong dam

Mekong River Commission passes the buck on Don Sahong dam

Members of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) will discuss the future of the proposed Don Sahong Dam at the government level after failing to reach an agreement through the MRC’s Council, it was announced yesterday.

In a statement, the MRC said as there was still differing views on when prior consultation for the 260-megawatt hydropower plant should finish, the matter would be referred to the Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian governments to resolve through diplomatic channels.

The announcement comes six months after the issue was referred to the MRC Council, the inter-governmental organisation’s highest governance body.

Though Laos is determined to push ahead with the dam, the other lower Mekong countries have called for more time to allow further studies on its impact on the river’s ecosystem.

According to the MRC, governments can communicate any decision to the MRC Council for further proceedings and can resort to mediation by mutual agreement according to the principles of international law.

Conservation group International Rivers yesterday called for more transparency about the decision to refer the issue to governments given the issue’s international importance, saying the announcement’s implications were still uncertain.

“It is unclear about who’s responsible for this very critical regional issue and if MRC can still be a platform for governments to discuss and consider this,” the group’s Thailand campaign coordinator, Pianporn Deetes, said.

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