Representatives from Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam gathered for a Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat (MRCS) meeting in Vientiane, on January 12 to start the first meeting of the Joint Committee Working Group (JCWG) on the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) for the Pak Beng hydropower project.
The Pak Beng hydropower project has been proposed on the Mekong mainstream in the northern territory of Lao PDR. The run-of-river project with capacity of 912 MW and average annual generation of 4,775 GWh is expected to produce power for domestic supply and export. The dam is located between the Jinghong hydropower project in China and the Xayaburi hydropower project in Laos.
This first meeting of the PNPCA JCWG was informed about and discussed several key issues that require advanced proper attention and common understanding and agreement to ensure the successful implementation of the six-month prior consultation process for the proposed Pak Beng hydropower project with the aim of increasing joint benefits and cooperation.
During the opening remarks, DrInthavyAkkharath, Chairperson of the meeting, Acting Secretary General of the Lao National Mekong Committee and Joint Committee Member for Lao PDR said: “The Prior Consultation will allow us, as MRC member countries and other relevant stakeholders, the opportunity to discuss and provide views on the Pak Beng hydropower project.” He emphasized: “We will review if the Pak Beng project reflects a reasonable and equitable use of the Mekong River system and how it could be done to avoid, minimize and mitigate the negative impacts, especially ones trans-boundary in nature.”
At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed that the starting date for the six-month Prior Consultation is considered 20 December 2016. A Regional Stakeholder Meeting in February 2017 and a field visit to Pak Beng in April 2017 will be organized to exchange and share information, investigate the site, and discuss and document legitimate concerns.
“We are pleased with the discussion and agreement on a range of issues today which set a clear milestone and timeframe for the six-month Prior Consultation process of the Pak Beng Hydropower Project”, said Pham Tuan Phan, CEO of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS). “We hope that with the support of the MRCS, at the end of the six-month process, the Joint Committee can come up with clear decisions and recommendations for the Pak Beng hydropower project.”
Source: Lao News Agency