The Laos government has given way for the construction of the Third Mekong Dam project that will have a capacity of 1400MW; the largest dam along the river. Construction of the third Mekong Dam project will officially begin this year. The news on the construction comes after various neighbouring countries including; Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam sharing their concerns and reservations for the construction of the dam citing that the dam could potentially harm fisheries and farming downstream. The Mekong River Commission (MRC) received these complaints from the countries after completing a six-month consultation process that the countries were not satisfied with and who asked for more time to be given into the research of the effects the utility could cause.
There is, however, a Mekong Treaty that dates back to 1995 that gives the neighbouring countries no power to veto any of the hydropower projects that take place in Laos. Last year, Laos completed two Mekong dams, the 1,285-megawatt Xayaburi Dam and the 260-megawatt Don Sahong Dam, despite objections by environmental groups.”Further transboundary environmental impact assessments should be conducted,” Cambodia’s government told the MRC during the consultation process, while Vietnam asked Laos to “spare more time and resources”.”While the three countries recognised the sovereignty and rights of (Laos) … they requested that Lao PDR take due account of their recommendations,” the commission said in a statement.
Just as the new dams came online, the river waters sank to the lowest levels they’ve been in more than half a century, prompting questions from environmentalists. The Luang Prabang project is a joint development among the government of Laos, subsidiaries of Vietnamese oil and gas company, PetroVietnam Power Cooperation, and Thai construction giant Ch Karnchang PCL.”This process has…never led to a meaningful debate about impact or problems that may arise from these hydropower projects. So the questions raised by people, NGOs and governments have never received a proper reply.”