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Decision looms for controversial Mekong dam

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alp227 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 11:07 PM
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Decision looms for controversial Mekong dam
Source: The Guardian

The Mekong ministers responsible for southeast Asia's "Mother River" are expected to pass judgment on Thursday on the most controversial dam ever proposed for the vast waterway.

Laos hopes to built a 1,285 MW hydroelectric plant at Xayaburi that would supply Thailand with electricity and open the door to a host of other proposed dams on the Mekong. But until now its plans have been fiercely opposed by Cambodia and Vietnam, which fear the blockage would sharply reduce the water needed for downstream fisheries and irrigation.

Ministers from the four nations meet in Siem Reap, Cambodia, tomorrow to rule on the Xayaburi plan amid demonstrations and petitions by conservationists who warn that the dam could kill off some of the world's most remarkable freshwater species. Arguments between the four member states of the Mekong River Commision have held up the plan, on which a decision had been expected in April.

Laos - one of Asia's poorest nations - is desperate to start the $3.5bn project to generate foreign exchange and accelerate economic development. To meet the concerns of its neighbours, it promised a new study of the environmental impacts. But the study - produced by the Swiss firm, Poyry Energy - has been criticised by conservationists for approving construction even though it acknowledges key information is missing.

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