PHNOM PENH, March 28: (Khmer Times) – Amid growing furor over the controversial Don Sahong Dam – with a proposed canal site just one kilometer north of the Cambodia-Laos border, groups of civil society, monks and environmentalists will start peaceful campaigns, kicking off today in an attempt to put pressure on Lao PDR’s government to halt the construction of the mainstream.
The campaign comes after a week of the field visit to the site and a workshop in Phnom Penh that the new dam is believed to pose a threat to the Mekong biodiversity, especially the fishery resources –an important source to people’s livelihoods in both Cambodia and Vietnam .
The 4 days National Peace Walk Campaign on Don Sahong Dam aims to alert the four Mekong governments and other development partners to put pressure on Lao PDR’s government to immediately stop the construction of these mainstream hydropower dams.
They said that our position is “no mainstream dam” on the Mekong, citing that the Don Sahong dam will be the second mainstream dam on the Mekong River, if built.
The dam, if proceed as planned, will condemn the Mekong’s fisheries and destroy the downstream livelihoods, and the effects will be felt by the Cambodian people.
In July 2012, the Xayaburi dam, was halted following intense pressure from international groups and Cambodian authorities to conduct further environmental impact studies after Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand had all called on Laos to submit its planned Don Sahong hydropower dam to an intergovernmental assessment.
Already serious concerns have
been raised by non-governmental
organizations and scientists
over the Xayaburi Dam.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a brief last month alleging that construction of the 260-megawatt dam could result in the demise of the endangered Irrawaddy, or “Mekong”, dolphin.
The WWF’s dolphin paper claimed that water quality, sediment flow, habitat degradation and increased boat traffic brought on by the project, as well as explosives used in excavation, could decimate the remaining 85 dolphins.
However, hydropower developers in southern Laos have fired back at the WWF’s report saying that the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment, made public by Laos last September, cited that potential negative impacts to the downstream Irrawaddy dolphins can be mitigated.
Lao PDR plans this new dam to generate electricity for export to Thailand, one of twelve hydropower projects currently being studied and proposed for construction on the lower Mekong River after Xayaburi.