Friday, November 19, 2010

NGOs campaign to defer dams construction in Lower Mekong Basin

NGOs campaign to defer dams construction in Lower Mekong Basin
September 08th, 2010 | Xinhua

Campaigners on Tuesday expressed concern against the members from the
Lower Mekong Basin to continue building dams to meet energy demands.

In an interview with reporter in Bangkok on Tuesday, Carl Middleton from
International Rivers said that concerned activists have been calling the
Mekong River Commission (MRC) to defer the construction of 12 dams.

He gave the remark as several civil and environmental groups, including
International Rivers, Probe International and World Wildlife Fund
gathered together in Bangkok and called on the MRC to live up to its
mandate to protect the Mekong River.

International Rivers, a U.S.-based NGO, seeks to protect rivers and
defend the rights of communities that depend on them, Carl said.

Carl said the MRC, which comprises Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam,
also seemed to be slow or even fail to carry out its duty by turning a
blind eye to the decision to construct dams in the Lower Mekong Basin.

The Mekong River originates in the Tibetan plateau and flows 4, 800
kilometers (2,980 miles) through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia
before entering into the sea from Vietnam.

"Any dam built on downstream sections would cause dramatic changes to
the river. By blocking vital fish migration routes and sediment flows,
the dams will significantly alter the river's rich biodiversity," said
Carl, "this will result in fishery losses, impacting the livelihoods and
food security of millions."

Experts have repeatedly warned that any Lower Mekong mainstream dam will
carry important risks to food security, given its impact on fisheries
and agriculture.

It is estimated that the Lower Mekong produces 2.5 to 3 million tons of
fish annually. An important part of this production – between 600,000 to
1.4 million tons would be at risk if Lower Mekong mainstream dams were
constructed, they said.

"All impacts are incremental," said Marc Goichot, Sustainable
Infrastructure Senior Advisor to the World Wildlife Fund's Greater
Mekong Program.

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