Mekong Group Renews Call to Burma, China

Experts on sustainable development from the four downstream countries along the Me­kong river ended a joint meeting in Laos last week with a renewed call to bring China and Burma into the fold.

Sitaheng Rasphone, a Lao agriculture minister and chairman of the Mekong River Com­mission Joint Committee, said bringing China and Burma into a basin-wide planning process would become more important as the pace of development increases. Meanwhile, development up­stream may have been responsible for a record low level last week for the Mekong in Thai­land, the Bangkok Post reported Saturday.

The river at Chiang Saen fell more than a meter in 10 days, ac­cording to figures from a hydrographics center. A local skipper said preparations to blast a navigation channel through the river had prompted the temporary closure of spillways of a Chinese dam, lowering the water level.

A Phnom Penh-based hydrology expert called the 1-meter drop “amazing” and said it could in­­crease riverbank erosion and hurt fish populations. The river has since risen a half-meter.

The Mekong River Commis­sion has said Chinese plans to blast the navigation channel and to build more dams in China re­quire further review to ensure they will not hurt downstream countries.



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