Thailand pushes ahead with Xayaburi dam project
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Thailand pushes ahead with Xayaburi dam project

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A fisherman works near the site of the proposed Xayaburi Dam in Paksey, northern Laos. Pic: AP.

Despite reservations from Mekong Basin countries, construction continues, reports Asia Sentinel

Over the opposition of environmental groups and the governments of other countries in the Mekong Basin, the Thai government is pushing ahead with the construction of the controversial Xayaburi Dam, environmentalists say.

Although the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments have expressed concerns about the dam and work was supposed to stop until further study has been completed, preliminary construction on the giant dam deep inside Laos, is continuing, according to International Rivers, which opposes the structure.

Large numbers of workers have been on the job for two years to build access roads and facilities for the project, said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Campaign Coordinator for International Rivers. Ch. Karnchang, Thailand’s largest construction company, has the contract to build the dam for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, better known as EGAT, which has contracted to 95 percent of the energy from the dam.

“It doesn’t mean the dam can’t be stopped,” Deets told Asia Sentinel in a telephone interview. “We believe there are many channels that we can try to cancel the PPA (power purchase agreement).”

Thailand appears to be defying an agreement in early December by the Mekong River Commission Council, comprising water and environment ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, to seek international support to produce a more complete study of the dam, which is intended to produce 1,280 megawatts of power for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

The Mekong supports the largest freshwater fishery in the world. The downstream governments are concerned that the Xayaburi and 10 other dams planned for the Mekong, which feeds a river basin populated by 60 million people, will do irreparable damage to the river’s habitat.

Continue reading at Asia Sentinel