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Laos Bows To Pressure To Delay Mekong Dam, Maybe For 6 Mos. Concerns For Fish, Seasonal Flows Grow

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:07 PM
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Laos Bows To Pressure To Delay Mekong Dam, Maybe For 6 Mos. Concerns For Fish, Seasonal Flows Grow
Laos has agreed to delay construction of a $3.8-billion dam and hydroelectric scheme that opponents and neighbouring countries fear will lead to the destruction of the lower Mekong River, one of the worlds most economically important waterways.

The Vientiane government reluctantly agreed to the postponement last week at a summit with officials from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, all of which are members of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) which advises on sustainable management of the waterway.

Laos said it will pause construction until perhaps October or November of the Xayaburi project, which would produce 1,260 megawatts of electricity that Thai utility companies have already contracted to buy. But Thailands government, together with that of Cambodia, think there should be further studies of the dams environmental impact.

This follows release of a report done for the MRC by independent experts which said there are fundamental gaps in knowledge about the environmental and economic impact of the dam, and cast doubts on the optimistic predictions of the Thai company in charge of planning and construction. The MRC report warned that from 23 to 100 fish species, including the endangered Mekong Giant Catfish the worlds largest freshwater fish could face extinction if the dam is built.

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