Environment: Environmentalists welcome Mekong commission’s call to postpone dams

Blog Note: There appear to be two main thrust in the region as far as water resource management is concerned. One from China and its mega-dams philosophy, and the other are the non-dam philosophy of many down river from China. The question to the survival of rivers that supports diverse wild life and also human communities, appear to be lying in geo-politics however. Much of ASEAN is being drawn towards the Chinese way of thinking-and we will just have to wait and see if environmentalist and government planners of smaller states down river from China-will have the will power to resists development along the Chinese path.

  • The following is from DPA:

Environmentalists welcome Mekong commission’s call to postpone dams

Bangkok – Environmentalists on Monday welcomed a recommendation by the Mekong River Commission to postpone the construction of 11 hydropower dams on the river by 10 years.

The Vientiane-based commission recently published a 200-page report outlining its opposition to the dams on the lower Mekong, South-east Asia‘s longest waterway that courses through China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Although China has already built four hydropower dams on the Upper Mekong, no dams have yet been constructed on the lower mainstream of the river.

The commission, whose membership includes the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, has advised that 11 proposed dams be deferred for a decade to avoid political and environmental conflicts.

“The proposed developments when under construction and operating have the potential to create; international tensions within the Lower Mekong Basin due to i) ecosystem integrity, ii) reduced sediment and nutrient loads, iii) disruption to other uses of the Mekong and iv) reduced productivity in fisheries and agriculture,” the report said.

The conclusions won immediate endorsement from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

“We need this 10-year deferral so innovative technology, tailor-made to the unique conditions of the Mekong, can be developed to allow for energy production without high risk to the river and the people dependent on its resources,” Marc Goichot, senior sustainable infrastructure advisor for WWF Greater Mekong, said.

The report warned that any dam built on the lower Mekong would threaten the livelihoods and food security of tens of millions of people in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. The commission also warned that dam construction would disrupt the migratory patterns of numerous fish species, including the giant catfish, which is already listed as endangered.

China, which is not a member of the commission, plans to build four more dams on the upper Mekong despite the unknown impact on the nations downstream.

The Stimson Centre think tank warned in August that China’s dams could halt up to 70 per cent of the silt that is normally carried by the river to the lower Mekong countries, depriving them of nutrients.

The Mekong, which flows from the Tibetan plateau to southern Vietnam, feeds and employs up to 60 million people in the region.

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To the younger generation who may be reading Thai Intel, Deliverance is a movie about the struggle of men and nature to stay alive