NGOs Call For Mega Dam To Be Halted

Over 250 NGOs from 51 countries have called on the governments of Laos and Thailand to halt building the Xayaburi mega dam on the River Mekong in Northern Laos.

They claim the environmental impact assessment report into the project has been poorly prepared and fails to take into account the environmental and social impact of choking the water supply to ecosystems and populations downstream.

The Mekong river is one of the largest in the world and already has a number of hydro electric dams upon it.  The Xayaburi dam would flood an area of nearly 20 square miles and would generate around 1,250 megawatts of power.  95% of this power would then be exported from Laos to Thailand.

However, it is estimated the dam will require over 2100 people to be resettled and will threaten nearly 50 species of fish with extinction.  Millions of people are thought to be impacted by the project, including almost the entire population of Cambodia, which is reliant upon the Mekong for water and irrigation.

The international Mekong River Commission, whose approval is needed for the dam to go ahead, has already said the dam will cause “irreversible environmental impacts” and it broaches a variety of Thailand’s own environmental laws.

“A new type of governance is needed for such commons, in which project affected communities have a say,” said Chanida Chanyapate Bamford of Focus on the Global South.  “The sustainability of livelihoods should definitely be a priority criterion in determining whether this dam should be built.”

Picture Credit: Great Mekong by Hector Garcia under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License.

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