Representatives of locals having concerns about the impacts from the new Mekong dam in Pak Beng, Laos, will today file a complaint at the Administrative Court against Thai government agencies for their involvement in the project.
The Thai Network of Eight Mekong Provinces’ representatives said they expect the Thai agencies to protect the rights and freedoms of people living in Thailand.
The complaint will be the second case filed against Thai government agencies regarding cross-border impacts from projects outside of Thailand, and which deals with transboundary environmental and social impacts of hydropower projects on the Mekong River.
The 912MW Pak Beng dam is the third dam planned for construction on the lower Mekong River mainstream, following the Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams.
The dam, with Chinese investment, will be located in Oudomxay province, northern Laos, which the locals fear would potentially block the river about 92 kilometres downstream from Thailand in Wiang Kaen district, Chiang Rai province.
As it is located on the Mekong mainstream, it is currently undergoing Prior Consultation in accordance with the Procedures for Prior Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement set out under the 1995 Mekong Agreement.
The initial six-month Prior Consultation period will conclude on June 19.
Villagers in Thailand are particularly worried about flooding, as a result of the dam’s reservoir. Information shared on Pak Beng forums in Thailand was very limited, and so people have been left with many questions regarding the impacts of the project, the villagers claim.
The MRC, meanwhile, issued a press statement on Tuesday, addressing the impacts downstream from China’s dams.
Its monitoring team pointed out that the Chinese dams, six on the Upper basin, do affect water flows in the Lower Mekong Basin, but it generally reduces the flow during the wet season while increasing it during the dry season. The increase of the downstream flow is interpreted as easing the effects of drought.