The Mekong River Commission (MRC) finished its first round of prior consultation process yesterday on the construction of the Pak Beng hydropower dam in the mainstream of the river.
The process was a public hearing held in Laos’s ancient capital of Luang Prabang on Wednesday and yesterday for all stakeholders to share their views and information about the project.
The next round will be held in May, the MRC statement said.
Laos proposed the Pak Beng Hydropower Project as a run-of-the-river project located in mainstream Mekong. The power plant is expected to have an installed capacity of 912MW, with a discharge flow of 5,771.2 cubic metres per second.
On November 4, the Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat submitted a detailed description of the planned project to the MRC Secretariat for its review and further action to inform other member countries about the project’s scope and other requirements as per the prior consultation process.
Building a dam on the mainstream of Mekong could have a negative impact on the environment and society in the basin as the dam would block the water flow, affect sedimentation and fish migration.
In addition to the two forums in February and May, there have been several meetings and consultations at both national and regional levels to provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to get the most up-to-date information, share views and discuss further action.
A field visit to Pak Beng will be held in May to investigate the site in order to get firsthand experience and understanding of the project site.
At the opening of the forum on Wednesday, Lao Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sommad Pholsena said, “For the Pak Beng project, taking into account the good lessons learned, we will strive for effective and meaningful consultation. With your understanding, support and good recommendations, we expect to reach a conclusion on this project.”