Another dam on the Mekong

Since the announcement in July last year that the Lao government was notifying the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its intention to proceed with the construction of a dam due to be completed by 2027, not far from the old royal capital of Luang Prabang, there has been a steady increase in the criticism levelled at this decision that seems to fly in the face of concerns about what is happening to the Mekong river – both as a vital source of fish and in terms of sediment flow downriver. 

More immediately, criticism has focused on two procedural aspects: the clear past evidence that ultimately the MRC procedures for consultation will not prevent the Lao government from going ahead with construction of the dam, no matter what opposition might be mounted against it, and (probably more strikingly) the surprising fact that a Vietnamese government agency, PV Power, a subsidiary of Petro Vietnam, is the lead developer for the construction of the dam. These facts and criticisms are captured in a forceful recent article in Hong Kong’s Asian Sentinel.

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Milton Osborne