Lao Villagers, Facing Eviction for Dam, Are Leery of Government Promises

On a remote bend of the Mekong River in northern Laos, where its muddy waters make a hard right turn through steep verdant hills, the 330-odd residents of Houaygno village are bracing for an imminent exodus.

Vietnam’s state-owned PetroVietnam Power has chosen the site for the $3 billion, 1,460-megawat Luang Prabang hydropower dam; construction is set to start next year. Its sprawling catchment will flood 23 villages in whole or in part — home to 10,000 people in all — and locals have been told to start packing.

They say government and company officials have promised to compensate them in full, but trust is scarce.

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Zsombor Peter