Thai Activists Raise Alarm Over New Proposed Lao Mekong Dam

Thai activists and organizations have raised alarm bells following last month’s announcement that the Mekong River Commission will begin its prior consultation process on the Sanakham hydropower plant, a new Mekong River dam project in northern Laos.  

The plant would be the sixth dam in Laos, costing more than $2 billion, and would follow Laos’ Xayaburi Dam, farther upstream, which began operation in November.  

The MRC prior consultation process normally lasts for six months, during which other MRC members, including Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, can review the project and assess any cross-border impacts. 

While members can suggest changes, the MRC consultation process cannot veto projects, meaning the Sanakham project will move forward. 

Save the Mekong, a coalition of organizations and academics, said June 2 the proposed dam is expensive, unnecessary and risky, and should be canceled. 

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Steve Sandford