Laos press for another dam on the Mekong; villagers notice dwindling fish catch as dams become operational

Author: Asia Times, Published on: 23 May 2020

"Laos to press ahead with 'destructive' Mekong dam", 12 May 2020

Environmentalists have criticised Laos for pressing ahead with plans for another "destructive dam" on the Mekong River, a waterway already strangled by hydropower schemes.

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Water levels have dropped to record lows over the last year, exposing rocks and killing fish, a phenomenon blamed by villagers in Thailand and Laos on the operations of dams.

...Laos' communist government submitted proposals for the Sanakham dam – close to the northeastern border with Thailand – to the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

The MRC is a dam consultation body for Mekong nations, but has been accused of being toothless in stopping river projects sponsored by governments and big business.

The consultation process is in fact a "rubber stamp" to get work started on the Sanakham this year in time for a 2028 completion, according to International Rivers, a key campaign group against damming.

"What the Mekong needs immediately is the moratorium on large-scale hydropower dams... not more destructive dams that will benefit a few at the expense of communities in the Mekong basin," Paiporn Deetes of International Rivers told AFP.

The MRC says the Sanakham dam consultation includes an environmental impact assessment on the waterway and its communities.

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Villagers along the Mekong in Laos and Thailand say their fish catch has dwindled as the dams have come online.

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