Laos Urged to Cancel Latest Dam for Mainstream Mekong

Having approved the dam, Laos will listen to feedback on its plans for the next six months; critics say it won't make a difference.

Environmental rights groups are calling on Laos to cancel the latest hydro-electric dam it has approved for construction across the Mekong River, warning of dire consequences for the millions of people who rely on the waterway for a living.

A six-month “prior consultation process” for the Luang Prabang dam began on October 8, giving Laos’ partners in the Mekong River Commission (MRC) — Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam — a chance to review the project plans and raise concerns. But the rights groups say the farming and fishing communities expected to be hit hardest by such dams have been let down by the consultations for previously approved projects, and they expect no different this time.

The Luang Prabang dam is the fifth mainstream Mekong dam Laos will have put through the consultation process, and with 1,460 megawatts of generating capacity, it will be the biggest thus far. The first, the Xayaburi, is due to start producing electricity at the end of the month.

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