Govt allays concerns over China's Mekong channel

Govt allays concerns over China's Mekong channel

A Chinese boat collects samples of the bed of the Mekong River in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai on Sunday during China's survey of the Mekong River to facilitate cargo transport. (Photo by Chinnapat Chaimol)
A Chinese boat collects samples of the bed of the Mekong River in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai on Sunday during China's survey of the Mekong River to facilitate cargo transport. (Photo by Chinnapat Chaimol)

It is too early to worry about China's survey of the Mekong River in Thailand in connection with a plan to facilitate its cargo boat navigation there, authorities said on Tuesday.

Chinese officials are surveying the Thai section of the Mekong River in Chiang Rai province for a feasibility study and no decision has been made nor has any action been taken that should justify public concerns, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

Concerned parties would have their say in the survey findings and any further action on the matter would need cabinet approval, he said.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith admitted on Tuesday that China had a project to adjust the navigational channel in the Mekong River but said at this stage the existing channel and water currents are just being surveyed.

The survey would have no environmental impacts, he said.

Sorasak Saensombat, director-general of the Marine Department, said the project would benefit water transport in China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand along the river and similar surveys had been done in sections passing China, Laos and Myanmar.

The remaining section ran 96 kilometres along Thailand and Laos and its survey was set from April 19 to June 11. It covered the section's existing channel, geological property, depth and currents and included the boring of holes that were 10 centimetres in diameter and up to 10 metres deep in 15 locations, Mr Sorasak said.


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