Vietnam asks Laos to consult Mekong countries before building dam
Posted Date: Friday, December 6, 2013 | Source:

Vietnam has called on Laos to honor its pledge to consult with its neighbors before moving forward with the potentially risky Don Sahong hydropower project.

The Vietnam National Mekong Committee has sent a letter demanding Laos honor regional cooperation pledged by the countries in the 1995 Mekong Agreement. According to some sources, Cambodian and Thai committees also sent separate letters to Laos. “We … suggest that the proposed project needs to be considered under the prior consultation process,” states Vietnam’s letter, the only one of the three to be released publicly.

Under the agreement, regulated by the Mekong River Commission, a dam developer must notify or consult with member countries before building. Le Duc Trung, chief of staff of the Vietnam National Mekong Committee, said its officers recently paid a field trip to the Don Sahong dam. After the trip, they concluded that the four countries should discuss further undefined impacts of the project, especially in terms of fish migration.

The proposed site for the Don Sahong dam in Laos (Photo:

Last September, Laos notified the Mekong River Commission (MRC), a consultative body that works with lower basin countries - Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia - of its intent to build the 260-megawatt Don Sahong dam, despite calls from foreign donors to consult neighbors that face a risk of depleted fish stocks and damaged livelihoods.

The dam, to be developed by Malaysia's Mega First Corporation Bhd, is the second of 11 dams planned by Laos along its stretch of the 4,900 km (3,044 mile) Mekong.
Activists believe the dam could cause flooding and threaten food security in Cambodia and Vietnam, Reuters reported.

Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand have repeatedly voiced concern about Laos failing to honor a consultation agreement on a bigger project, the US$3.5 billion, 1,260 megawatt Xayaburi dam, for which it held a groundbreaking ceremony late last year.

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