Fish migration, potential environmental impacts and transboundary effects took centre stage at MRC’s regional public consultation on Don Sahong hydropower project

regional consult on Don Sahong

Pakse, Lao PDR, 12th Dec 2014

12 December 2014, Pakse, Lao PDR — About 100 members of various stakeholder groups from the Lower Mekong Basin gathered in Pakse, Lao PDR for the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) regional public consultation on the proposed Don Sahong Hydropower Project. The meeting provided an additional opportunity for civil society, non-governmental and governmental organisations, regional and international organisations to find out more about the project and to share their concerns.

During a site visit to the proposed location of the project on 11 December, participants were able to talk to representatives from the developer, Mega First Corporation Berhad, as they explained some of the major features of the dam and the proposed measures to minimise and mitigate any potential negative impacts, especially on water flows and fish passage and migration. They also had a chance to see the work of the developer’s fish passage experts as they explained their techniques for fisheries monitoring.

During the 12 December public consultation meeting, representatives from the Member Countries and various stakeholder groups raised questions to the MRC Secretariat and the developer on various technical aspects on the project.

“At the end of this Regional Public Consultation, we hope that we will have gathered views, concerns and practical recommendations from different stakeholder groups. The MRC Secretariat will incorporate these into a Report to be presented in parallel with the Technical Review Report for the consideration by the MRC Joint Committee in concluding the Prior Consultation process,” said Hans Guttman, CEO of the MRC Secretariat.

Several participants expressed concerns related to flows control, the effect of turbines on fish migration, sediment management and the lack of studies or analyses on potential transboundary effects. They believe the project may have negative effects on the livelihoods of riverine communities downstream, especially in the Viet Nam Delta and Cambodia.

Others were more vocal about their opposition to the dam and called on the Lao government to cancel the project.

Representatives from the developer and experts from the MRC Secretariat provided scientific information to address some of these concerns.

Although public consultations are not a formal requirement of the prior consultation process, the Member Countries have agreed to the importance of public participation, and national public consultations or information sharing meetings have been held and will continue to take place according to national mechanisms and practices in the respective countries.

The regional public consultation is complementary to the national consultations and allows those who may not have the opportunity to participate in the national meetings to voice their concerns and learn more about the project and the prior consultation process.

This is the second time that the MRC carries out the Prior Consultation following the Xayaburi Hydropower Project. Through this process, stipulated in the 1995 Mekong Agreement and Procedural Rules, relevant stakeholders expressed their views, concerns and recommendations regarding the Xayaburi project and as a result some recommendations have been taken into account by Lao PDR in the redesign of the hydropower dam.

The prior consultation on the Don Sahong Hydropower Project officially started on 25 July 2014. The timeframe for the process is six months, although this can be extended upon agreement by the MRC Joint Committee.

All available data and information of the project including environmental and social impact assessments and engineering reports is available for public access on the MRC website on this dedicated page: http//www.mrcmekong.org/news-and-events/consultations/dong-sahong-hydropower-project/

Note to editors:

The MRC is the inter-governmental organisation established to promote regional cooperation and facilitate dialogue on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin among governments, the private sector and civil society. It is not a supra-national or regulatory body. The commission looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining the freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving important ecosystems. Superimposed on these are the future effects of more extreme floods, prolonged drought and sea level rise associated with climate change.

The Prior Consultation is one of a number of protocols under the 1995 Mekong Agreement to promote cooperation in sustainable management of the basin's water resources and avoid regional disputes from developing. According to the Mekong Agreement, the prior consultation is not a right for any Member Country to veto the project, nor is it a right for a country proposing the project to go ahead with it without taking into account the others’rights.

The MRC Joint Committee (JC) carries out the prior consultation process with technical and administrative support provided by a working group consisting of representatives from the Member Countries and the MRC Secretariat.

For more information on the PNPCA, the Don Sahong prior consultation and access to the project documents please go to:

http://www.mrcmekong.org/news-and-events/consultations/don-sahong-hydropower-project/

For more information on the Xayaburi prior consultation please go to:

http://www.mrcmekong.org/news-and-events/consultations/xayaburi-hydropower-project-prior-consultation-process/

For more information contact:

Mr Khy Lim, Communication Officer, Office of the Secretariat in Phnom Penh

E-mail: khy@mrcmekong.org

Phone +85523 425 353 extension 1061

Or

The International Cooperation and Communication Section, Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane

E-mail: mrcmedia@mrcmekong.org

Phone: +856 263 263 extension 4062

 

 

Email: Federico@mrcmekong.org

 

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