Cambodia will support the Don Sahong Hydroelectric Dam that is planned to be built in southern Laos less than two kilometres from the Cambodian border, although civil society groups continue to appeal to regional authorities to halt construction on environmental grounds
According to a post on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page on November 27, he discussed the dam proposal with visiting Lao National Assembly President Pany Yathotou on Saturday.
“Cambodia will support Laos’ construction of the Don Sahong dam and allow Laos to use roads and ports to [trade] goods because Laos has no access to the sea,” he wrote, speaking about an agreement to boost bilateral trade, the Khmer Times reported on Monday November 28, 2016.
The prime minister’s post said that Ms. Yathotou had agreed to sell electricity generated by the dam to Cambodia at affordable prices to boost development of the border region.
Last week the prime minister met with leaders of Laos and Vietnam to discuss the ongoing development of the provinces in all three countries that are near the dam and that are presently deemed under-developed.
In Stung Treng Province’s Pharla Baravat district, Sous Chanphal, a Preah Rumel commune deputy chief, told the Khmer Times that the dam would damage tourism, which focuses on the critically endangered Mekong dolphin and the region’s natural beauty.
He also had fears about contamination as well as the exploitation of existing natural resources required for its construction and called on both governments to reconsider building the dam.
“I think if the dam began operating we will die before the [few remaining] dolphins, because the dolphins have begun to move already,” he said.
The 30-meter high, seven-km long dam will produce up to 360 megawatts of electricity once built and according to construction company Mega First Corporation Berhad, environmental impact surveys showed no evidence of damage to local ecosystems.
Opponents, however, claim that up to six million Cambodians who rely on the Mekong River’s fish stocks for their livelihoods are likely to be greatly affected.
In October, 90 regional NGOs met with the Environment Ministry to discuss concerns over developments on the Mekong River.
Youth for Social and Environmental Protection representative Chum Huot, a long-time environmental activist, expressed his concerns yesterday about the prime minister’s most recent support for the dam.
“In the past, the prime minister has always sent protest letters and requested that Laos, in cooperation with NGOs, examine the potential impacts clearly,” he told Khmer Times.
“But after returning from China, he changed his mind because the Chinese government said that they would invest in hydropower on the Mekong River.”
Source: Lao News Agency