Lao dam construction draws complaint from Bangkok

Lao dam construction draws complaint from Bangkok

5The Lao government's decision to construct the Sanakham dam, a run-off reservoir on the Mekong River, caused concerns about territorial security in Bangkok. The government recently sent a message to Vientiane, saying Thailand may not end up purchasing the power generated by the 684-megawatt hydroelectric dam -- which will be located just two kilometres from the Thai border in Loei -- if the issues aren't addressed.

Once completed, the dam, which is financed by a Chinese company, is expected to sell the majority of the power it generates to Thailand and other countries neighbouring Laos.

But the government recently said it is unlikely to buy power from a project which may critically damage the river's ecological systems and cause significant transboundary impact.

The project is undergoing the Procedure for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) process.

Thailand has declined to organise public hearing processes as outlined by the PNPCA, saying a more well-rounded study was needed to assess the project's impact in a scientific manner, and added the data used by the project's developer is out of date.

The government said its main issue with the project concerned boundary delineation and the environment, namely its impact on land erosion.

Somkiat Prajamwong, secretary-general to the Office of the National Water Resources, said an article under the Mekong Agreement clearly stated that any country in the Mekong sub-region can ask the Mekong River Commission to halt projects which may critically affect the region.

Under the Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin, Article 7 says "a state must cease immediately an alleged cause of harm, until such cause of harm is determined".

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