China Mekong Water Release Welcomed

Ros Chanveasna / Khmer Times No Comments Share:

Cambodia has welcomed China’s decision to again release water from a dam into the Mekong to help the five lower Mekong basin countries – Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam – gripped by a severe drought.
 
“The Cambodian government welcomes the Chinese government continuing to discharge water from Jinghong Hydropower station in Yunan province to the downstream Mekong River from April 11 to help alleviate the impact of the drought suffered by the lower Mekong countries,” including Cambodia,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
 
Chan Yutha, spokesman for the Water Resource and Meteorology Ministry, told Khmer Times that about 60 million people who live along the lower Mekong River – including Cambodians – would benefit the discharge of water from China’s upstream dam.
 
“Even though the water level of the downstream Mekong River does not increase much in Cambodia, it helps reduce the effects of the drought for  Cambodian farmers living along the lower Mekong River at Stung Treng, Kratie, Tboung Khmum, Kampong Cham, Kandal, Phnom Penh, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces.
 
“Previously, the water level of the Mekong River increased from 0.2 meter to 0.3 meter in Cambodia’s Stung Treng province while Laos raising the water level up to 0.5 meter,” Mr. Chan Yutha said, referring to when the water was first released by Chinese government in May.
 
He said the worst-hit areas were in Kampong Thom and Banteay Meanchey provinces. But the ministry has eased the problem by renovating water basins and pumping water into canals.  
 
About 50,000 families have been affected.
 
The lower Mekong countries have been hit by one of the worst drought in almost a century. Thailand has diverted billions of cubic meters of water from the Mekong, drawing strong protests from Cambodia.
 
The drought and low water levels have also caused a major salinity problem in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Low water levels have allowed seawater to penetrate 90 kilometers inland.
 
The 4,900 km river sustains 60 million people as it flows through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
 
About 39 hyrdopower dams have been built or are under development along the river. Many of them in China
 
Pianporn Deetes of International Rivers, a US-based advocacy group, said China has “absolute control” of the Mekong: “The region is being held hostage by hydropower development.”
 
Thailand, Cambodia and Laos have 11 new dams planned between them, potentially affecting 82 percent of Mekong river’s water. Laos is building its economy around hydropower production to become the “Battery of Southeast Asia”. – With Reuters.

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