Australia’s Help Needed to Halt Mekong Dam

Added by on March 11, 2011

Australia’s help is needed to halt the development of a $3.5 billion hydro-electricity project on the Mekong River, environmental groups say.

The Xayaburi Dam project in Laos has brought disagreement to the region with Thailand and Laos keen to proceed while Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as Australia through the Mekong River Commission (MRC), have expressed concerns about the impact on biodiversity and the 40 million people who depend on it for their survival.

Ame Trandem, from the International Rivers group, said “Australia should be applying more pressure on the Mekong River Commission to make sure that the four countries take a precautionary approach to the dams and that they are fully informed and aware of the impact the dams will cause.”

For instance, according to Climatologist Anond Snidvongs from Chulalongkorn University, about one third of Cambodia’s economy is based on fish exported from the Ton Le Sap Lake on the Lower Mekong Delta.

“Dams are definitely going to affect the biodiversity, that’s one thing. It’s very clear and very well proven,” Anond said.

The Mekong River runs for some 4,900 kilometres through the Tibetan Plateau, southern China, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, towards Vietnam’s delta region and on to the South China Sea.

The Xayaburi Dam is the first out of 11 hydropower developments that have been proposed for the lower Mekong River.