Mekong Commission Calls for Water-Use Rules

Drafting water-use rules to ensure the Mekong River is used efficiently and effectively should be a top priority of countries in the region, Mekong River Com­mission Council officials said Monday.

The council, with representatives from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, gathered in Phnom Penh Monday for a two-day annual meeting. A council resolution called for member governments to undertake a “good faith effort” to negotiate water-use rules.

The commission is scheduled to meet with donors today to report its achievements since the last such meeting in October 1998, said Khy Thainglim, Minister of Public Works and chairman of the commission council for 1999-2000.

The commission will also present its work program for next year for consideration by the donor community.

Another topic of discussion is the proposed Sambor dam project in Kratie province, Khy Thainglim said. If the proposed dam gets built, it could generate 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts of hydro­electricity, he said.

But health officials warned in August that building the dam could help spread shistosomiasis, a potentially fatal parasitic disease carried by tiger snails.

Minister of Envi­ronment Mok Mareth also has said the Sambor project could result in a huge disaster for ecosystems in Cambo­dia.

Khy Thainglim said development projects related to the Mekong must be balanced with environmental concerns.

The Mekong River Com­mis­sion was formed in April 1995 as a way for Cambodia, Laos, Viet­nam and Thailand to work toge­ther in establishing sustainable development and conservation in the Mekong River basin.

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