As Budget Drops, Commission Prepares for New Laos Dam

The Mekong River Commission is still reeling from the blowback over its handling of the consultation process around the Don Sahong and Xayaburi dams in Laos, both of which are expected to have severe environmental consequences on those living downstream. Now, with its budget slashed—its funding for the next five years is half of what was allocated over the previous period—the commission is preparing to take on another dam on the mainstream Mekong, officials said after a closed-door meeting in Phnom Penh on August 31. Pham Tuan Phan, CEO of the MRC’s secretariat, said the commission had only informally discussed the new dam in Laos—among a number of other issues raised during a meeting with foreign donors on August 31. “We did not formally introduce the Pak Beng dam in the meeting,” Mr. Phan said, explaining that the Chinese company planning the dam, Datang, had yet to begin the consultation procedure, which is meant to include impacted communities.

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