Construction of the Xayaburi Dam in Laos
It will be a giant, stretching across the mighty Mekong River. Standing 32.6 metres tall and 820m wide, the $3.8 billion Xayaburi dam in Laos could supply electricity to more than three quarters of a million homes in Thailand. And when it’s completed in 2019, it will be the most controversial power project in the region.
Since the plan was released in 2010 to construct the hydroelectric plant, geologists and environmentalists have voiced concerns about safety and the effects the mega-dam will have on neighbours Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. They have highlighted the risks of seismic activity in the area and the threat to the fishing industry on the 3,100-mile long (4,900 kilometres) Mekong River, which flows from the Tibetan steppes into southern China on its way to Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Continue reading
The Mekong, a river of wildly majestic fast-flowing currents flowing through six countries, has long enchanted explorers with its rich biodiversity second only to the Amazon.
It is home to the Giant Catfish, and at least 877 fish species sustaining food security for around 65 million people which make the Mekong the world’s most important centre of freshwater fisheries.
“For the people born on the Mekong, the river is like their blood—the principle of life,” says Dorn Bouttasing, a Lao environmental researcher.
Surely it is unthinkable that man would want to endanger or destroy the basis of such extraordinary natural wealth? Such invaluable natural resources, their infinite value defies any attempt to measure with a crude price tag.
My documentary Where Have All the Fish Gone? (Eureka Films) looks at the four Chinese hydropower dams that have been already built on the Lancang (The Chinese name for the upper Mekong), but its main focus is on the Lower Mekong basin shared by Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Filed under Cambodia, China, Current Events, Economic development, Energy, Environment and sustainability, Food, Foreign policy, GMS, Governance, Laos, Mekong River, Sustainability and Resource Management, Thailand, Vietnam, water