May 18, 2017 12:04 By Pratch Rujivanarom The Nation
The level of public participation in planning for the Pak Beng Dam that Laos wants to build on the Mekong River was among concerns raised at a meeting on Thursday.
It was Thai citizens’ final chance to comment on the hydropower project. About 100 people attended.
Other major concerns cited at the fourth and final public hearing, held in Chiang Rai’s Wiang Kaen district, included backwater flooding, sedimentation and erosion, the dam’s impacts on fisheries and the ecosystem and measures to mitigate them, and the safety of the dam itself.
The hearing – a requirement of the formal Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement for mainstream river projects – gave Thais another chance to raise concerns with the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
The government’s Water Resources Department, which represents the country on the commission, conducted Thursday’s hearing.
Bhadol Thavornkitcharat, the department’s deputy director-general, explained that the procedures were designed to let citizens voice concerns and suggestions so that the dam’s impact might be mitigated.
“This is the final hearing in Thailand on the Pak Beng Dam project,” he said. “In recent months, we have held similar forums in Chiang Saen in Chiang Rai and in Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani. The findings from these hearings will be summarised and reported to the MRC and project developer.”
Mekong River Management Bureau director Nuanla-or Wongpinitwarodom said the Water Resources Department would now compile a final report on the concerns gathered in Thailand to be presented to the MRC joint committee on June 19.