Representatives of Government, Citizens, and Civil Society Voice Concern over the Impact of the Don Sahong Hydro-Electric Dam in Laos – Wednesday, 17.6.2009

Posted on 20 June 2009. Filed under: Week 617 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 617

“Phnom Penh: A workshop was held by the Cambodian Mekong Committee cooperating with the Fishery Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in the morning of 6 June 2009 at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, and representatives of the government, of civil society organizations, and of citizens from communities in Stung Treng, Kratie, the Tonle Sap basin, and Mondolkiri, as well as many higher education students, younger students, and monks participated in this event.

“Also, representatives of the National Mekong Committee, government representatives of the six countries [through which the Mekong River flows], representatives from the Fishery Administration, and many other experts on the development of rivers attended this workshop in order to seek strategies to protect fish yields and bio-diversity of the river.

“The executive director of the NGO Forum, Mr. Chhit Sam Ath, said that nowadays, there are 11 hydro-electric dams among which there is the construction of a big hydro-electric dam, the Don Sahong Dam, near the Cambodia-Laotian border, upstream in the Mekong River. It is known that many Cambodian people, about 80%, depend on the Mekong River, which provides for fishery, has water, serves tourism, and is a water way. Therefore, if this dam is created, there is concern that it might affect the water current and the fish, especially it can have a negatice impact on the movement of fish to lay their eggs in the Tonle Sap basin. Thus, this workshop aims to share information and to study more what the impact will be if this hydro-electric dam is built, and it will be necessary seek whatever strategies by which hydro-electric energy can be extracted and at the same time, people can continue to live there, and the stable management of the eco-system in the Mekong basin can also be guaranteed.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, Mr. Por Try, said that the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap Lake are a well-known freshwater fishery resource among different major rivers of the world, and it is almost priceless economically. Fishery resources in the Tonle Sap Lake as well as in the whole system of the Mekong River play an important role for food security and for the living standard of many people in the region, especially Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Fishery resources of these three countries are interrelated by geography, water current, biological factors of fish species, and many other factors, particularly the movement of abundant fish every year. During the dry season, some species of fish move from the Tonle Sap low-lying areas to the upper currents of the Mekong River in Laos and Thailand, and then the fish move to the lower current areas in Vietnam. During the rainy season, fish move from the Mekong River into to the Tonle Sap Lake and to other lower low-lying areas for breeding and growing, since the low-lying areas of the Tonle Sap Lake has a favorable eco-system which serves as a good fish refuge and is rich in natural food for all kinds of fish. Therefore, if there is a plan to change the flow of water or to build hydro-electric dams in the Mekong River system, it can lead to the change of currents and affect fishery resources, increasingly worrying officials of the Royal Government as well as citizens and representatives of civil society organizations.

“The secretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries hopes that the workshop on that day was a good opportunity to discuss and exchange opinions, experiences, and information and to promote knowledge about the construction of dams and their impact on fisheries and on the living standard of millions of people. But he stressed that the workshop is just a study for all to see different impacts when hydro-electric dams are established, but it does not means than the workshop had any achievements that can be carried out immediately. Wether constructions will be made or not depends on monitoring and on decisions from the Royal Government.

“According to documents distributed at the workshop, the Don Sahong hydro-electric dam is to be established at a major current of the Mekong River in the Siphandon area at the southern part of Laos, 2 km from the Cambodian-Laotian border. The Don Sahong dam is to be constructed at the lower end of the current of the Hou Sahong channel, with a length of 7 km between Dan Sahong and Dan Saodam islands. The dam will produce 240 to 360 megawatt – mostly to be sold in Thailand, but also in Cambodia. The company responsible for the development of this dam is a construction and engineering company of Malaysia, which signed a memorandum of understanding with the Laotian government to study the possibility of this plan in March 2006, and then again in February 2008 a development deal was signed allowing to negotiate and finish detailed information of the plan with the Laotian government, and about electricity trading to be concluded before the end of 2009.

“According to a document of the Cambodian Mekong Committee, the Don Sahong Dam threatens the life of people and the rich fishery resources in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Also, it will affect food security and the economies of this region, and moreover, it will destroy the last group of porpoises, and the change of the Phapheng waterfall by the Don Sahong Dam can affect the increasing popularity of the region which is a target area for tourism.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1972, 17.6.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1399, 17-18.6.2009

  • Official of the Cambodian Government Asks the Successor of Mr. Yash Ghai [Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, the new UN high rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia] Not to Be Biased

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #212, 17.6.2009

  • Prime Minister [Hun Sen] Welcomes [President] Obama’s decision] to Remove Cambodia from the Blacklist on Commerce [counbtries with which the USA does not have trade relations]
  • The Asian Development Bank Agrees to Provide More Than US$59 Million to Cambodia [to improve public infrastructure, international trade, and solutions for the economic and financial crisis which affects Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1972, 17.6.2009

  • Representatives of the Government, Citizens, and Civil Society Voice Concern over the Impacts of the Don Sahong Hydro Electric Dam in Laos
  • Deputy Prime Minister Sok An Will Clarify the Setting Up of Lighting at the Angkor Wat Temple at the National Assembly on 19 June 2009

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #426, 17.6.2009

  • There Are 3,000 Staff Listed in the Staff List of the National Assembly, but Those Who Come to Work Are Only About 500

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3786, 17.6.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Recognizes that the Detention of [former Tuol Sleng Prison chief] Dutch by the Military Court [for eight years] Was Illegal

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4922, 17.6.2009

  • Dutch Wept while He Was Remembering Torture at the Tuol Sleng Prison
  • A 73-Year-Old Staff of a Crematorium [at a pagoda] Raped an 11-Year-Old Girl [he was arrested – Battambang]
  • Three Died and Three Others Were Injured by Lightnings on the Same Day, but at Different Places [Prey Veng]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1731, 17.6.2009

  • A Civil Society Organization [the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Warns It Will Hold a Big Demonstration, If [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua Is Arrested [over a defamation complaint by Prime Minister Hun Sen]

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

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