Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon is calling for international efforts to monitor the controversial Luang Prabang dam project in Laos and the impact it will have on the Mekong River, where water levels have been unusually low.
The issue was raised yesterday at a meeting chaired by Gen Prawit of the Thai National Mekong Committee, which approved Thailand's stance on the planned construction of the 1,400-megawatt hydropower dam.
The committee will pass its resolution via the Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR) to the Mekong River Commission (MRC), the regional body established by Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to jointly govern their use of the river.
"Gen Prawit has instructed ONWR to declare Thailand's stance to drive international cooperation for the sustainability of the Mekong," Maj Gen Phatchasak Patirupanon, assistant to Gen Prawit's spokesman, said after the meeting.
The Mekong is not in a good state, Maj Gen Phatchasak said, admitting the water levels have "dropped sharply", affecting eight Mekong-rimmed provinces in Thailand – Chiang Rai, Loei, Nong Khai, Bueng Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen and Ubon Ratchathani.
Thai officials are worried the new dam will worsen the situation by changing the river ecology further, including the flow of sediment downstream.
"The colour of the river has changed from its normal brown to light blue because of the low amounts of sediment," said ONWR secretary-general Somkiat Prajamwong, who is chairing the MRC until Dec 31. He added the monitoring of the river will continue.