Laos approves Mekong dam despite objections

The Lao government has approved the construction of the US$3.5-billion Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River despite objections from environmentalists.

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Protests like this one in front of the Lao embassy in Bangkok in 2011 carried out by members of a people’s network representing riverside communities in eight provinces along the Mekong have slowed the construction of the Xayaburi dam, but not stopped it. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD

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Laos approves Mekong dam despite objections

Saritdet Marukatat, with agency reports

VIENTIANE: The Lao government has approved the construction of the US$3.5-billion Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River despite objections from environmentalists, said a senior official Monday.

"We will have a ground-breaking ceremony in Xayaburi on Wednesday," said Viraphonh Viravong, deputy minister of energy and mines.

The ceremony will mark the beginning of work in the river bed, with construction on access roads and facilities already under way.

The hydroelectric project is to be the first run-of-river dam to be built on the lower Mekong. Four dams have already been built on the upper Mekong in China.

The project has been criticised by environmentalists, neighbouring countries and downstream riverside communities for its possible impact on the flow of sediments and fish migration.

There are 10 more dams planned on the lower Mekong, Southeast Asia's longest river and one of the world's richest sources of fish, worth an estimated $2 billion per annum.

Last December, members of the Mekong River Commission's council, consisting of water and environment ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, urged a delay to allow further environmental research.

In response, the Lao government and its chief partner in the project, Thailand's Ch Karnchang Plc, agreed to spend an additional $100 million to revamp the design of a fish ladder and sediment flow gates.

The recommendations were made by project consultants Poyry of Finland and the French Compagnie Nationale du Rhone and incorporated into a new design for the project.

"They have no more serious complaints on the redesign of the dam," said Mr Viraphonh of Laos' neighbours.

The country already has 13 hydroelectric plants in operation with a total capacity for 3,000 megawatts.

The Xayaburi project, to be operational by 2019, will be one of its largest, with more than 90% of its electricity to be exported to neighbouring Thailand.

"Xayaburi is a very good project," he said. "The financing is there and if we don't go ahead what are we expected to do? Solar farming? It's too expensive."

An organisation called the Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces held a flotilla protest Monday of 45 boats on the Thai side of the river in Nong Khai, across from Vientiane which is currently hosting the Asia-Europe Meeting that has drawn about 50 Asian and European leaders to the Lao capital.

"We want the visiting leaders to be aware of the Xayaburi dam project and the impact it is going to have on people living downstream," said the network's spokeswoman Pianporn Deetes.

Villagers downstream will be severely affected by the dam, she told the Bangkok Post, adding cross-border impacts will be greater after the construction, including ecological damage and the effect on the livelihood of people along the river.

"What we wanted to see was a decision based on knowledge rather than economic and political reasons," said Ms Pienporn. "This is not a project that will bring about sustainability for people in the region."

She rejected the revamped environmental report, saying it was hastily written with no consultation from downstream members. "We've never seen the study," she added.

protest – a meeting or rally, sometimes forceful or violent, of people who strongly disagree with something ชุมนุมประท้วง
embassy – a building where a group of officials work who represent their government in a foreign country สถานทูต
network – a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
community – the people living in one particular area ชุมชน
construction – the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
approve – to give official permission อนุมัต
objection – an expression of opposition to or dislike of something or someone การไม่เห็นด้วย
environmentalist – someone who wants to protect the environment นักสิ่งแวดล้อม, คนที่ทำงานด้านรักษาสิ่งแวดล้อม
senior – with a high rank or position อาวุโส
groundbreaking ceremony – the ceremony of breaking ground to begin a construction project
deputy – a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง
mine – a deep hole or holes under the ground where minerals such as coal, gold, etc. are dug  เหมืองแร่
mark – to show that something is happening เป็นเครืองแสดง เป็นการเริ่มต้น
access – allowing entry to a building or place  ทำให้เข้าสู่ได้
facilities – the buildings, equipment and services provided for a particular purpose อุปกรณ์, อุปกรณ์อำนวยความสะดวก, สิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก
(get) under way – to begin เริ่มต้น เริ่มทำ
hydroelectric – using water power to produce electricity เกี่ยวกับไฟฟ้ากำลังน้ำ
run-of-river dam – a dam that is not intended to store water, i.e., it doesn’t have a large reservoir (water storage space) and which is used to generate power
criticise – to say that you disapprove of somebody/something; to say what you do not like or think is wrong about somebody/something วิจารณ์, ติเตียน,จับผิด
neighbouring – located or living near or next to a place or person  ติดกัน, ที่อยู่ใกล้เคียง, ที่ตั้งอยู่ใกล้เคียง
downstream – in the direction that a river or stream is flowing ตามกระแสน้ำ
impact – an effect or influence  ผลกระทบ
flow – the continuous movement of a liquid in one direction การไหล
sediment – a soft substance that is like a wet powder and consists of very small pieces of a solid material which have fallen to the bottom of a liquid ตะกอน
migration – the movement of large numbers of people, birds or animals from one place to another การย้ายที่, การอพยพ
source – the place or person something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something ต้นกำเนิด, แหล่งกำเนิด
estimated – thought to be a particular amount, size, etc. based on a guess or the best information available ประมาณการ
per annum – for each year ต่อปี, ทุกปี
commission – an official group of people who have been given responsibility to control something, or to find out about something, usually for the government  คณะกรรมการ, คณะกรรมาธิการ
consist – to be made of or formed from something ประกอบด้วย
urge – to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
delay – doing something later than is planned or expected การเลื่อนเวลา
research – a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it การวิจัย
response – a reaction to something that has happened or been said การตอบสนอง
revamp – to make a major change or revision to something ปรับปรุงใหม่
ladder – a piece of equipment or a structure for reaching high places บันได
recommendation – a suggestion for how to solve a problem, deal with a situation ข้อเสนอแนะ
consultant – a person who knows a lot about a particular subject and is employed to give advice about it to other people ผู้ให้คำปรึกษา
incorporate – to include something so that it forms a part of something ซึ่งรวมเข้าเป็นหนึ่งเดียวกัน
complaint – when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory การร้องเรียน
capacity – the amount of something that can be produced  ความสามารถในการ (ผลิต)
operational – working; able to be used ที่สามารถใช้งานได้
export – to sell and send goods to another country ส่งออก
financing – money used to run a business, an activity or a project or the source of such money แหล่งเงินทุน
solar – involving the sun เกี่ยวกับดวงอาทิตย์
flotilla – a group of small boats or ships กองเรือรบเล็ก,กองเรือรบที่ประกอบด้วยเรือเล็ก
currently – at this time; now ในปัจจุบัน
host – to provide the space and other things necessary for a special event ทำหน้าที่เป็นเจ้าภาพ, เป็นผู้จัดรายการ
capital – the most important town or city of a country, usually where the central government operates from  เมืองหลวง
aware – to know that something exists, or to have knowledge or experience of a particular thing ทราบ
severely – very seriously อย่างรุนแรง
ecological – of the system of relationships between the air, land, water, animals, plants, etc., usually of a particular area เกี่ยวกับความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างสิ่งมีชีวิตในระบบนิเวศน์
livelihood – (the way someone earns) the money people need to pay for food, a place to live, clothing, etc การดำรงชีวิต, การครองชีพ
sustainable – able to be successfully continued for a long time ยั่งยืน, ถาวร
reject – to not accept something ปฏิเสธ ไม่ยอมรับ
hastily – hurriedly; quickly อย่างรีบเร่ง
consultation – the act of discussing something with somebody or with a group of people before making a decision about it  การปรึกษาหารือ

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