The Mekong Basin Community Council Network (MBCC) has called on the government to step in and help block the construction of two dams on the mainstream Mekong River.
CALL TO ALMS: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Lao counterpart Thongsing Thammavong offer alms to monks during a joint merit-making ceremony in Nong Khai province to mark the end of Buddhist lent yesterday.
The group, an alliance of local NGOs and residents living along the river, say the Laos-backed projects pose a threat to the Mekong's natural resources and the livelihoods of riverside communities.
The call came as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra met her Lao counterpart at a merit-making ceremony in Nong Khai province to mark the end of Buddhist lent yesterday.
The MBCC urged both Ms Yingluck and Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong to consider suspending the Xayaburi hydroelectric dam project and the Don Sahong Hydropower Project in the Siphandone area of Champasak province.
A reliable study on the possible negative effects of the two dams was needed and all concerned parties should be allowed to take part in the study before any further decisions on the projects are made, the MBCC said.
More than 60 million people living in the Mekong River basin would be affected by the proposed dams, the group said.
It added that relations among countries in the region were likely to sour as a result of growing conflicts over the controversial dam projects.
The MBCC also accused Laos of violating the 1995 Mekong Agreement, which requires thorough consultation on every project that will be constructed on the mainstream Mekong River.
Laos is pressing ahead with the Don Sahong project - construction of which will begin next month - in an area of the Mekong which fishery experts have identified as one of the most important habitats for migratory fish, the MBCC said.
Ms Yingluck yesterday said countries along the Mekong River must work together for sustainable water management. The Mekong countries should share information and cooperate to tackle disasters, food security and energy supply problems, she said.
"We have to look at the Mekong River as a whole and help manage the river in order to use its water beneficially," the premier said during her weekly Yingluck Government Meets the People programme, which was broadcast live from Nong Khai yesterday.
Ms Yingluck also said her government plans to develop transport systems in the Northeast to help promote increased tourism and trade in the region.
The transport system development in the Northeast will come under the government's proposed 2.2-trillion-baht infrastructure borrowing plan.
The megaprojects also include a Bangkok-Nong Khai high-speed train line, as well as a four-lane highway from the capital to Nong Khai.