Laos Presses Ahead with 4 More Mekong Dams Amid Drought

Laos is pushing ahead with four dams across the mainstream of the Mekong River, despite an escalating chorus of objections and crippling debt to Chinese state banks which resulted in the loss of control over its electricity grid to China.

For almost two decades scientists and environmentalists have said Laos’ mega dam designs could irreversibly damage fish stocks, including endangered mammals like the Irrawaddy dolphin, and risked bankrupting the country.

Deputy Energy and Mines minister Sinava Souphanouvong recently said Laos would build 100 dams across the country by 2030, adding that 78 were already operational and capable of producing 9,972 megawatts of electricity.

Authorities say the tiny one-party state will be enriched by a series of dams generating hydropower from China in the north to Cambodia in the south, making it the “battery of Asia.”

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Luke Hunt