Laos' govt to inspect all dam standards, shelve new hydro projects

Breaking News August 08, 2018 09:10

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo 
Vientiane Times
Asia News Network
Vientiane

3,968 Viewed

The government has announced it will examine the safety standards applied to the construction of hydropower dams across the country following the deadly disaster caused by the collapse of a dam in Attapeu province.



The cabinet made the announcement shortly after its two-day extraordinary meeting ended yesterday.

Chaired by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, the meeting heard of the progress made in dealing with the aftermath of the disaster in Sanamxay district. 

The meeting agreed to carry out inspections into all dams, both those that are complete and whose construction is underway.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines will work with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Science and Technology and international experts in carrying out the inspections.

Any irregularities found in the design or construction standard of a dam must be reported to the government on a case by case basis, so that improvements can be made.

The government has also decided to suspend the consideration of new investments in hydropower projects in order to review its hydropower development strategy and plans. The reviewed strategy and plans will be used as a reference for future direction.

The meeting, attended by cabinet members, agreed to establish a taskforce committee to lead the investigation into the reason for the collapse of saddle dam D, one of five auxiliary dams at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project.

The failure of the dam on July 23 flooded 13 villages in Sanamxay district, killing 34 people as of August 6 while 100 villagers are still missing. Thousands have been left homeless.

The investigation committee is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Government Inspection Authority, Dr Bounthong Chitmany.

The committee welcomes the help of international experts in carrying out the investigation and verifying the cause of the dam fracture. The committee will also invite representatives of the governments of the Republic of Korea and Thailand, whose companies were stakeholders in the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project, to provide consultation and observe the investigation process.

This will ensure the thoroughness and transparency of the investigation so that the findings are recognised and accepted internationally.

Once the findings are made known, the government will proceed with the next steps. 

The meeting also agreed to establish a high-level committee, supervised by Dr Bounthong, to investigate the responsibility of state authorities for the dam failure, as well as those in charge of issuing warnings ahead of the disaster. 

The cabinet called for all relevant sectors with assistance from friendly countries to do their utmost to locate the remaining missing people.

Authorities in charge were told to speed up work to build temporary houses for displaced villagers who are currently living in temporary shelters and camps.

The meeting told relevant officials to provide sufficient relief supplies including food, drinking water and other basic essentials, as well as offer good healthcare to prevent the outbreak of disease.

The meeting called for proper management and the most effective use of relief supplies and cash donations in a transparent manner that could be inspected.

The National Ad Hoc Committee in charge of dealing with the aftermath of the Sanamxay flood was told to collect comprehensive information on the losses and damage caused by the disaster.

The Ad Hoc Committee was also entrusted to draw up short-term and longer term plans to recover the damage and losses and report to the government so that investment in the recovery could be prioritised.

The cabinet expressed heartfelt gratitude to all Lao people, all sectors, friendly countries and international organisations for extending invaluable assistance and support for the relief, search and rescue mission.

This heartfelt gratitude was also extended to soldiers, police officers, Lao and foreign volunteers and rescue teams contributing to the relief, search and rescue effort.

 

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