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14 Mar 2023

RFA Laos

Laos: Villagers affected by Pak Beng Dam remain concerned about low compensation as talks continue

"Lao villagers worry that compensation for Pak Beng Dam will be too low" 14 March 2023

Local authorities in Laos last week met with villagers who will be affected by the Pak Beng Dam project to discuss compensation, but the villagers worry that the government’s offer will be too low, sources in the country told Radio Free Asia. [...]

The authorities of Bokeo province’s Pak Tha district last week talked with villagers about compensation rates for land, homes, fruit trees and other crops, an official of the province’s Energy and Mines Department, who like all other unnamed sources in this report requested anonymity for safety reasons, told RFA’s Lao Service.

“At the meeting, we discussed doing some more surveys, collecting information about property and the location of resettlement villages,” the official said. “We haven’t paid any compensation yet because we don’t have all the information.”

The official explained that residents of 17 Bokeo province villages will lose their land, fruit trees and other crops; and some villagers will be relocated to new villages. 

“As for compensation, we’ll base it on the actual social and economic situation in the area and on the same policy that was used for the Xayaburi dam project.” [...]

The power purchase agreement, or PPA, a necessity for the dam to make economic sense, has not been signed yet, but the dam developer has already started building infrastructure like access roads to get ready for the dam’s construction.

An employee of the Thai developer on the project, Gulf Energy, explained to RFA last week that even though they have not signed the PPA, they have drafted an agreement on the dam’s construction with the Lao government. 

The employee said that the Gulf Energy Development of Thailand owns 49 percent of shares in the Pak Beng Dam Project and China’s Datang Overseas Investment owns 51%. [...]