The Mekong River Committee Asks to Be Careful about the Impact on Development by Hydro-Electric Dams – Monday, 1.6.2009

Posted on 2 June 2009. Filed under: Week 615 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 615

“The Mekong River Committee asks all developers to pay attention to many possible environmental impacts which can result from the plans to build hydro-electric dams along the Lower Mekong River.

“This is the first public reaction by the Mekong River Committee since member countries had announced many hydro-electric dam investment projects along the Lower Mekong River from Laos to Vietnam.

“The executive director of the Mekong River Committee, Mr. Jeremy Bird, said on 28 May 2009, ‘The Mekong River system is an area rich in priceless production opportunities. But at the same time, it is also a delicate resource.’

“Because of concerns over environmental impacts on the Mekong River system, member countries of the Mekong River Committee, including Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, had agreed to jointly study the developments in the Mekong River Basin.

“Regarding this issue, Mr. Jeremy said – as the Mekong River Committee released a strategic assessment report about the development programs along the Mekong River in Cambodia, Laos, and at the Thai and Laotian borders – that before any decisions are made for the construction of hydro-electric dams in the Lower Mekong Basin, all member countries had agreed to cooperate to follow science-based knowledge about the impact from the development, and to clearly establish whether private requests for the construction of new dams meet sustainable economic, environmental, and social principles or not.

“Officials of civil society organizations working on development and environmental conservation, welcomed what the Mekong River Committee stated and they ask some of the regional institutions to encourage member countries of this committee to carefully consider the situation of people who might be affected by various development projects along the river related to overall developments.

“An official of the Culture and Environment Preservation Association – a partner organization of the NGO Forum – Mr. Tek Vannara, said that there have been concerns voiced by many experts regarding the requests for the development of hydro-electric dams along the Mekong River. Therefore, what the committee has stated is a positive sign, but in the meantime, this committee should do whatever is possible so that the people in general can broadly participate in the conception of such projects.

“According to Mr. Vannara, there is concern that various development projects for hydro-electric dams along the Lower Mekong River strongly affect the environment of the river, as well as the society and the everyday lives of the people living along the river.

“He added that there is concern that those projects can damage the eco-system of the river, the movement of fish, and the settlements of people.

“So far, there are 6 hydro-electric dam projects along the Lower Mekong River proposed by Laos and Vietnam. Out of which 4 are proposed by Laos, and two are to be implemented bilaterally with Thailand. There are 2 in Cambodia at Sambor and at Stung Treng. Among the 6 plans, only 2 are probably to be realized: the Don Sahong dam of Laos, which is being studied by a Malaysian company, and another one at Sambor in Cambodia, being studied by a Chinese company.

“A non-governmental organization official, who asked not to be named, said that if it were not because of the global economic crisis, the number hydro-electric dams to be implemented along the Lower Mekong River would not be just two. They think that the price of the electricity produced will be cheap. He added that his crisis offers the governments of each country enough time to study the impacts [of the construction of hydro-electric dams].

“The Mekong River Committee also agrees with this idea. The Mekong River Committee said in its statement that the impact from the global financial crisis in Southeast Asia offers a breathing opportunity for its member countries to seek projects that benefits all people in all regions of the Mekong River.

“This committee went on to state that according to its study, those hydro-electric dams can have both negative and positive impacts. The dams can keep water at the upper regions of the river, retaining the water for the dry season, so that it does not flow down quickly, and thus maximize the flood water as an advantage for the consumers of water, but at the same time, the change of the flow of water will affect fish. Moreover, big development projects will lead to the displacement of some people’s living spaces, affect fish breeding patterns and movement, and may cause landslides.

“So far, the Mekong River, which is one of the eight biggest rivers of the world, can support approximately 60 million people, and it is a source of fish worth up to US$2 billion per year.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4908, 31-1.6.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 1 June 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #199, 31-1.6.2009

  • The Permanent Committee of the National Assembly Prepares to Hold a Meeting about the Reduction of Salaries of the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Right Party Parliamentarians [for boycotting a National Assembly meeting]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1958, 31-1.6.2009

  • There Is Tension Again as Siam [Thailand] Uses Bulldozers to Construct Roads opposite the Phnom Trop Mountain
  • The Nomination of Councilors and of the City Governor and Deputy Governors Is Announced; Mr. Kep Chuktema Is Appointed [again] as Governor and Six Others [Mr. Man Chhoeun, Mr. Pa Socheatevong, Mr. Chreang Sophan, Mr. Trak Thaysieng, and Ms. Touch Sarom] Are Appointed as Deputy Governors [14 councilors from the Cambodian People’s Party and 7 from the Sam Rainsy Party are appointed as members of the Phnom Penh Municipal Council, with Mr. Mab Sarin as president]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #415, 31-2.6.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Banteay Meanchey] Yun Tharo Calls on Khmer Citizens and Civil Servants to Attend the Celebration [on 4 June 2009] to Commemorate the Loss of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Territory [to Vietnam]
  • The Braveness of Heng Samrin [president of the National Assembly and honorary president of the Cambodian People’s Party] in Defending the National Territory Is Admired by Nationalists [recently, he built a channel and houses for poor people along the border of Kompong Cham and Vietnam, to protect the area from invasion, as the area was claimed by Vietnam to be in its territory, but he opposed this, claiming that it is the area where his ancestors had lived]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6664, 1.6.2009

  • At present 54% of the Men and 6% of the Women in Cambodia Smoke Cigarettes
  • In a Special Raid, Seven Members of a Group of Robbers That Prepared to Act in Takeo and in Phnom Penh Were Arrested, and Five AK-47 Rifles Were Confiscated [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3772, 1.6.2009

  • Ms. Mu Sochua Has to Appear at the Municipal Court on Wednesday, 3 June 2009, over Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Defamation Complaint

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4908, 31-1.6.2009

  • The Mekong River Committee Asks to Be Careful about the Impact on Development by Hydro-Electric Dams
  • Disabled People Welcome the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Disabled People, but Criticize Some Points [regarding the collection of statistics and data through trustworthy surveys and the lack of employment guarantees and health care for disabled people – the national census in 2008 estimated that among 13,388,910 Cambodians, there were 629.279 disabled people]
  • Cambodia and the Republic of Korea Will Sign Seven Cooperation Agreements [during a visit by a delegation led by Prime Minister Hun Sen to South Korea; those deals are a grant aid deal, a loan deal for the maintenance of roads, a loan deal for the construction of filters for dirty water catchment basins and the development of the Siem Reap river, a memorandum of understanding for construction cooperation, a memorandum of understanding for the energy and natural resources sector, a memorandum of understanding for transportation, and a memorandum of understanding for agricultural techniques and science]
  • A Memorandum of Understanding for the Neak Loeang Bridge Construction Is Signed [by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport with the Japan International Cooperation Agency – JICA]
  • Forest Crimes in the Prum Tep Koulen Animal Refuge Occur Every Day and Now More Seriously [Siem Reap]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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