Dept pushes on with dam consultation

Dept pushes on with dam consultation

The Department of Water Resources insists it will carry out prior consultation on the Don Sahong Dam project in Laos despite fierce opposition from locals.

The department said the consultation process is required under the Mekong River Commission's regulations.

Chief of the Department of Water Resources, Jatuporn Buruspat, said the process of prior consultation cannot be stopped as the department needs to hear all opinions on the project and submit them to the Lao government as specified under the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement.

He said the process will be transparent, with all stakeholders invited to join. He added that all the relevant information has already been posted on the department's website.

"I don't understand why the locals always say that they have not been invited to join the event. The department has welcomed all stakeholders to express their opinions. I even welcome any letters expressing concerns about the dam," Mr Jatuporn said.

The department on Monday started the first stage of the prior consultation process in Ubon Ratchathani province. It expects to complete the process in eight provinces in the North and Northeast of Thailand by January next year.

Pianporn Deetes, campaign coordinator of International Rivers, said the Network of Eight Provinces along the Mekong River submitted letters to the department, demanding the prior consultation procedure be carried out in an appropriate way. People who will suffer directly from the building of the dam must be invited to participate, but the department ignored this request, Ms Pianporn said. 

"The process of prior consultation is not a consultation. It is a way of giving information about the project. The department has not addressed the people who would be directly affected by the dam or heard their voices," Ms Pianporn said.

According to International Rivers, Don Sahong would be a disaster for fish in the Mekong. Located in the Siphandone (Khone Falls) area of southern Laos, less than two kilometres upstream from the Lao-Cambodian border, the dam would block the main channel passable year-round by fish migrating between Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

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