Cambodia scraps plans for Mekong hydropower dams

Campaigners welcome decision which allays fears for fragile biodiversity and communities dependent on river for livelihood.

A Cambodian government decision to postpone building new hydropower dams on the Mekong river has been welcomed by campaigners, who say it will provide welcome relief to the tens of thousands of people whose livelihood depend upon its rich resources.

Cambodia announced on Wednesday that it would not build any new hydropower dams on the mainstream Mekong for the next decade, allaying fears that the river’s fragile biodiversity could be further devastated by development projects.

Mak Bunthoeurn, project coordinator of the NGO Forum in Cambodia, said many communities alongside the river feared they would be forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods if previous plans to develop a dam went ahead. “They have time to enjoy the river. For their livelihood they depend on the fish they receive from the Mekong river and the ecosystem,” he said. He hoped the 10-year suspension would give campaigners time to encourage officials to abandon dam projects entirely.

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