On 13 June, the Government of Laos formally notified the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its intention to construct the Pak Lay dam on the mainstream of the Mekong River. The notification triggers the Prior Consultation procedure under the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) of the 1995 Mekong Agreement. Pak Lay is the fourth Mekong mainstream dam to be submitted for the procedure.
On 17th November 2016, the Save the Mekong Coalition (StM) has issued an Open Letter to the developers of the Don Sahong Dam to express their serious and ongoing concerns over the development of the project.
For a project with a relatively low generating capacity, due to its location in an area critical to Mekong fish migration, the potential impacts of the Don Sahong Dam on regional fisheries are severe. The food security of thousands of people in the Mekong Basin is dependent on many of the migratory fish species which have traditionally passed through the Hou Sahong channel. Inadequate information has been made available to date regarding the scale and scope of the project’s impacts and the monitoring efforts that are informing the project’s ‘adaptive and flexible approach’ to impact mitigation.
Furthermore, StM are concerned that the developer is considering not implementing all the mitigation measures outlined in the project’s 2013 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Although the developers have stated that extensive fish monitoring will be undertaken, limited information has been made available regarding baseline data and the ongoing monitoring of fish species and their migration patterns. Recent studies on the company website do not include reports detailing monitoring data and analysis since project construction commenced in January.
People potentially affected by the project currently have little means to seek accountability. This includes transparency over the project’s impacts and guarantees that the full range of measures available will be implemented to mitigate adverse impacts on fish migration and the threats to local communities and regional food security.
StM therefore call on the project developers to:
Confirm that all necessary measures, including screen and bypass systems to divert fish from entering the Hou Sahong channel and turbines, are being implemented to ensure mitigation of the project impacts is as effective as possible;
Release details of the fish screen and bypass system design and information as to how the measures will be developed to cater for fish species in the area;
Release the results of ongoing fisheries monitoring studies that show how fish migration behaviour is adapting to project construction;
Halt construction of the project until comprehensive information regarding the project’s environmental and social impacts and addressing the concerns raised by Mekong governments has been made publicly available.
People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) is a member of Save the Mekong Coaliation