Laos addresses MRC concerns on hydropower
Senior Lao energy officials told Mekong River Commission (MRC) representatives, international development partners and hydropower experts that Laos has addressed potential impacts of mainstream Mekong projects and will continue to do so.
|Mr Xaypaseuth Phomsoupha.
Director General of the Department of Energy Business, Mr Xaypaseuth Phomsoupha, told participants at a technical workshop on the Xayaboury and Don Sahong hydropower projects that Laos has abided by all procedures stipulated by the 1995 Mekong Agreement.
These include meeting the MRC’s preliminary design guidelines and subjecting mainstream projects to a notification and prior consultation process.
“We have addressed MRC member countries’ concerns regarding potential environment impacts, among other things,” Mr Xaypaseuth said.
“These concerns have included water flow, fish migration, sediment flow and navigation of the Mekong, and we are open to doing more to address all concerns,” he stressed.
By accepting and implementing the recommendations from the MRC’s prior consultation process for Xayaboury, the government incurred nearly US$200 million in additional costs borne by the developer, he said.
“We have looked at the requirements of the 1995 Agreement and deemed that they have been completely satisfied,” he said.
The department director general said the 1,285 MW Xayaboury project was required to meet all of the MRC’s requirements even though it is wholly within Lao territory.
While environmental activists cite potential threats to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, Mr Xaypaseuth noted that the Delta is “nearly 2,000 kilometres away, 1,930 kilometres to be precise.”
Mr Xaypaseuth, whose background is in economics and law, urged the MRC to do more to address the harmful environmental effects of commercial sand-mining and mineral extraction taking place much closer to the Delta.
For its part, the Lao government will be “versatile, transparent and inclusive” in developing Don Sahong and other mainstream Mekong projects.
In his closing remarks, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Energy and Mines Mr Khammany Intharath said the workshop was another example of the Lao government’s commitment to share information with stakeholders.
“It should be clear to all that Laos has been transparent and that we are doing everything possible to develop projects of the highest quality with the least possible impact on the natural environment,” the deputy minister and minister-designate said.
“I believe we can show the world that Laos is on the right path, in serving our people and respecting our neighbours. We will continue to pursue the highest standards of sustainability for these and all future hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstream.”
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update July 28, 2015