Laos: Xayaburi Dam begins operations despite villagers arguing that dam will destroy their livelihoods

An article alleges that the Xayaburi Dam, in which CK Power is a main developer, will destroy the livelihoods of the villagers. It further alleges that the beginning of the commercial operations of the Xayaburi Dam coincides with “parts of the Mekong drying to a trickle even at the end of the rainy season”.

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited CK Power to respond to the allegations. It did not.

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Article
24 February 2020

Cambodia: Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese stakeholders urge Xayaburi hydropower developer to share information on its hydropower plant in northern Laos

Author: Vida Taing, Khmer Times

"Stakeholders visiting dam call Lao Hydro developer to share data", 21 February 2020

Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese stakeholders have urged Xayaburi hydropower developer to share information on its hydropower plant in northern Laos, Mekong River Commission said.

In a statement ..., the Vientiane-based intergovernmental agency said the comments were made during a visit to the plant ...

The 1,260-megawatt plant, which includes the first dam across the mainstream of the Mekong River outside China, started operating late last year.

Chea Narin from the Cambodian Ministry of Mines and Energy said Cambodia wanted to see the plant developer and owner continue addressing past concerns and share more information with the MRC Secretariat...

Patchara Jaturakomol, a researcher from Thailand’s Kasetsart University, said in the statement that an absence of flow data sharing made her think the facility was storing water.

“It’s hard not to think that the dam isn’t storing the water when you saw the water levels on the upstream and downstream of the dams are different,” she said.

Nguyen Nhan Quang, from the Vietnamese Centre for Promotion of Integrated Water Resources Management, said data on sediment and fish migration above and below the dam should be shared along with information on power generation.

Anoulak Kittikhoun, chief strategy and partnership officer at the MRC Secretariat, said the agency wants stakeholders to see the dam and its operation with their own eyes and pose questions to the developer so they could make their own assessments...

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Article
23 February 2020

Mekong River Dams Disrupting Lives of Southeast Asian Fishermen, Farmers

Author: BenarNews, Radio Free Asia

20 February 2020

....[D]ams in China and Laos have disrupted the lives of Thai people whose villages abut the Mekong River.

[...]

Thai farmers said their troubles on the river began when the turbines of the Xayaburi Dam started churning....

"Lately there is no water. ... It's very dry," Mr. Chai, a fisherman..."[t]here are impacts from the dams. We can see the sandy river bed."

[...]

...[E]nvironmentalists say that dams threaten fish populations, alter the Mekong's natural hydrology and cause major soil erosion.

[...]

"...Thai provinces experienced sharp and unusual water fluctuations, and 'clear blue water' – a phenomenon that signals an absence of the nutrients and sediment that are critical to aquatic lives and fisheries," the International Rivers NGO said....

[...]

A study released by the Mekong River Commission in August 2018 showed that fish stocks in the river could fall by up to 40 percent, with a 97-percent reduction in the amount of sediment going downstream as a result of the dam projects.

...Thai water-resources chief Somkiat Prajamwong...documented complaints from villagers who had suffered economic hardship as a result of the river's erratic flow, which had lowered soil fertility and hampered yield in agriculture.

[...]

Somdej Thanatulyakul, a fisherman in Ban Sob Kok village in Chiang Saen, a district of Chiang Rai, said the fluctuating water-level led to unpredictable fishing harvest.

"We caught more fish five years ago, even during dry season," he told BenarNews. "The water tides are unpredictable. They change so fast, fluctuating in rapid manner. Dams have such impacts."

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Article
15 February 2020

Thai Citizens’ Group Submits Evidence of Impact of Laos’ Xayaburi Dam to Court

Author: Eugene Whong, Radio Free Asia

14 February 2020

A group of concerned Thai citizens...submitted additional evidence regarding the impact of Laos' Xayaburi dam to the Thai Supreme Administrative court, describing damage to fisheries and dramatic changes to an ecosystem that sustains millions of lives.

In an ongoing lawsuit concerning Laos' first of five planned large-scale Mekong river dams, the Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces is challenging the legitimacy of a power purchase agreement between Laos and Thailand, saying that the project has failed to properly assess the environmental impact of the dam in Thailand.

"The submission of additional evidence comes after half a year of project operations. During this period, downstream of the dam, stretches of the Mekong in seven Thai provinces experienced sharp and unusual water fluctuations, and 'clear blue water' - a phenomenon that signals an absence of the nutrients and sediment that are critical to aquatic lives, fisheries, and agriculture in the lower Mekong basin," said the International Rivers NGO in a press statement about the submission.

"The timing and location of the dramatic ecosystem changes indicate that they are linked to the operations of the Xayaburi dam," the statement said.

[...]

...[T]he Network is also asking the court to suspend the Power Purchase agreement until their evidence can be properly assessed.

[...]

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Company non-response
10 November 2019

CK Power did not respond

Article
10 November 2019

Laos: Protests continue against Xayaburi Dam for the reduced river flow and risk of livelihood crisis as it begins operations

Author: Panu Wongcha-um, Reuters

"New Mekong dam in Laos opens to protests, dried-out downstream", 28 Oct 2019

The first hydropower dam on the lower Mekong River began commercial operations in Laos…amid protests from villagers in Thailand who say the Xayaburi Dam and several others in the works will destroy their livelihoods.

The…Xayaburi Dam's debut coincides with parts of the Mekong drying to a trickle even at the end of the rainy season, though its builders and operators say it is not responsible for the reduced river flow…

The new spate of dam-building is poised to turbo-charge already-fraught water and food security disputes after years of worry about the 11 existing Beijing-built dams on the upper Mekong in China are choking the river on which millions depend for their livelihoods in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam…

"When Xayaburi dam officially generates electricity ... we won't be able to know how the river will change and how bad it will deteriorate, said activist Montri Chanthawong.

About 150 km (90 miles) to the south of Xayaburi, the fishing village of Ban Namprai is having its driest year in living memory…

Xayaburi's main developers, Thailand's CK Power PCL , blamed the dried-up patches of riverbed downstream on late monsoon rains and an upstream Chinese dam.

CK Power, a subsidiary of Thai construction company CH. Karnchang Public Company Limited , declined requests for interviews from Reuters and did not respond to written questions.

Its Facebook page features videos of special 6 billion baht ($200 million) "fish ladders" and sediment gates that CK Power says will ensure the Mekong's fragile ecosystem of fish migration and the sediment crucial to farming in Vietnam's Mekong Delta will not be harmed.

The company will invest in "the most sustainable manner", Thanawat Trivisvavet, CK Power's managing director, said in an article in a local newspaper…

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