Cambodian FM urges Laos to further study impacts of hydropower dam

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PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) — Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Tuesday called on Laos to conduct further studies on the environmental impacts of a proposed 260-megawatt hydropower dam.

The Lao National Assembly approved the concession agreement for the controversial Don Sahong hydropower dam on the lower Mekong River in August and expected to begin construction before the year end.

Speaking at a meeting with Somsavat Lengsavad, visiting Lao Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs, Hor Namhong said the dam is located only 2 km upstream from Cambodia’s border.

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He said Cambodia and other lower Mekong countries – Thailand and Vietnam – had be seriously concerned over the dam’s impacts on environment, water quality and fish movement.  

“Before the start of the dam construction at the end of 2015, I proposed Laos to conduct further studies on the project in order to avert its impacts on environment, especially water flow and fish movement to lower Mekong countries,” Hor Namhong, who is also a deputy prime minister, told reporters.

“I told Somsavat Lengsavad that Cambodia’s Tonle Sap River is the life of the Cambodian people and the river depends on the water from the Mekong River, so any adverse impacts on the Mekong River will affect Tonle Sap River, fishery resources, and Cambodian people’s lives,” he said.

He added that the dam could have negative impacts on millions of Cambodians.

For his part, Somsavat Lengsavad explained to Hor Namhong the result of a comprehensive study on the project and assured that Laos would do all its best to avert the dam’s negative impacts on lower Mekong countries.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has said the dam would pose a serious threat to the existence of bio-diversity on the Mekong River, such as rarely dolphin species and fishery resources which are vital to millions of people in Cambodia and Vietnam

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