Why is Laos building Mekong dams it doesn’t need?

Thailand’s economic slump during the coronavirus pandemic led to a drop in electricity demand, with Thai officials estimating power reserves currently at 50% over total capacity. 

However, despite the Thai surplus, hydroelectric dams are still being developed next door in Laos, Thailand’s top provider of electricity.

Critics say the dam projects are not driven by real electricity demands but by profit-seeking energy stakeholders, including the Laotian government, which has ambitions for the country to become the “battery of Southeast Asia.”

“There is an oversupply, so why do they still want to build dams? Nobody knows because there is no oversight,” Pianporn Deetes, campaigns director at International Rivers, a conservation NGO, told DW.

This would not be an issue “in a country with a clear checking mechanism, environmental or public property laws,” she added.

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Emmy Sasipornkarn