Laos holds public hearing on dam project

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Thu Nov 23 18:17:28 MST 2000



Thursday
23 November 2000

Laos holds public hearing on dam project
BANGKOK, Thailand: Laos began a public meeting Wednesday on a proposed major
hydroelectric dam, viewed by the government as a keystone of development
plans but assailed by activists as environmentally unsound.
Deputy Prime Minister Bounyang Vorachith opened the two-day session in the
capital, Vientiane, by describing the 1,069-megawatt Nam Theun 2 dam as "the
highest priority for the Lao government."
Representatives from the World Bank, international non-governmental groups,
aid agencies and Lao officials attended the forum.
The developer, the Nam Theun 2 Electricity Consortium, is presenting its
environmental assessment and management plan for discussion in a bid to
quell fears that the dam could hurt biodiversity and communities.
"The Lao government is very pleased with the study and the proposed
mitigating actions," Bounyang was quoted as saying in his speech, received
in Bangkok.
Laos, a mountainous country crisscrossed by rivers, has made hydroelectric
projects the core of its drive to leave the ranks of least developed
countries by 2020.
A major obstacle to the $1.2 billion dam is the World Bank's hesitancy to
underwrite the project, largely on environmental concerns.
The dam site is 250 km east of Vientiane in the central province of
Khammouane, on the Theun River. The project would flood a 450-sq km area.
The consortium consists of Electricite de France, Transfield Holdings of
Australia and two Thai companies, Electricity Generating Company and
Italian-Thai Development. The government of Laos also has equity.(AP)
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