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Thai government threaten to boycott new Lao hydro electric dam project

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Thai government threaten to boycott new Lao hydro electric dam project | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Xayaburi Dam
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Loas officials have announced the announcement of yet another Laos hydro electric dam and Thai authorities aren’t happy. The long list of Laos and Chinese dams along the Mekong River have hugely affected the life of communities downstream of the Mekong in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. And Laos. The Lao PDR has been described as South East Asia’s ‘battery’ and has been building hydro electric dams at speed in recent decades, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

They’ve question the potential environmental impact of the planned Sanakham hydroelectric dam in Laos between Xayaburi and Vientiane, and say they could exercise a section of the Mekong River Agreement to halt the scheme.

The Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world at 4,350 kilometres. It starts in the Himalayas and flows through six countries to its mouth in Vietnam and out into the South China Sea.

Somkiat Prajamwong, secretary-general of the Office of National Water Resources says they won’t oppose the dam project if there is no impact.

“But if conclude that construction will have a damaging effect on the environment in Thailand, we will exercise our right as a member of the Mekong River Commission to stop the project under the Mekong Agreement.”

Article 7 under the Mekong River Commission’s “Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of The Mekong River Basin 1995″ says that members of the Commission can veto any proposal for the area which they consider may have a harmful effect on the environment. The Article has never been used in the past.

The Thai government has issued a request to the Lao government for additional environmental studies, particularly as the limited information supplied by the Lao government hints at increased levels of sediment in the freshwater ecological system. ”

“We have requested additional information from the Lao government, particularly regarding concerns we have over the trans-boundary impact of the project. As far as I know, the correct environmental assessments have yet to be carried out,” according to the Bangkok Post.

Dr Chainarong Setthachua, a lecturer and ecology expert at Maha Sarakham University, has been a long-term critic of the “ongoing Mekong crisis”.

“It’s the most disastrous situation in history.”

Little is being done by governments whose are borders with the Mekong River despite recent stories and stark photos of the dried-bed of a major river that passes through China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

“We used the river as a political tool and an asset for economic development. Yet, we did not supervise its development, which has resulted in a real disaster. I don’t see any solutions because every government is only focusing on building dams, but not on the scars these development plans are leaving behind.”

Thai government threaten to boycott new Lao hydro electric dam project | News by The Thaiger

A study from the Australian National University states that Mekong Basin dwellers are struggling to find new protein resources as a substitute for the fish. It would take both massive water and land resources, especially in Cambodia, to create new protein substitutes.

Downstream, communities in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta decline are suffering coastal erosion and salination of their once-fertile land. Dams are threatening the country’s “breadbasket” as locals experience food shortages and are unable to access freshwater for daily needs.

In July 2018, hundreds of households in Laos were heavily flooded after a large amount of water overflowed a saddle dam section of the Xe Pian dam following heavy rainfall in the Lao southern province of Attapeu. The disaster claimed 26 lives, left hundreds of people missing and more than 6,600 people homeless.

Last month, the Thai government fired the first salvo saying that it might not purchase electricity from the Sanakham dam project citing its “environmental impact”.

Mr Somkiat said that the dam site is also located on a curve of the river, which will make it harder to control the water flow compared with a straighter stretch, and that could have severe consequences for areas along the border.

The Lao government plans to build the 684-megawatt hydropower plant only 2 kilometres from Loei’s Chiang Kan district.

Construction of the new dam by a Chinese company is slated to start at the start of 2021 and finish in 2028 at a cost of 6.4 billion baht.

You can read more about the Laos project to use hydro electricity to ‘power’ its economy HERE.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Preesy Chepuce

    Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    Would vetoing any of the Chinese dams have worked? That river is facing severe degradation now, people only looking at it from a physics perspective, and not giving a toss about the chemistry and biology of it. Look at the river Citarum in Java if you want to see a lesson from history.

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Thailand on fire – NASA satellite website tracks the country’s farm fires

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Thailand on fire – NASA satellite website tracks the country’s farm fires | The Thaiger

Thailand is burning. The burning off of harvested crop plantations is lighting up the agricultural areas. The truth is starkly revealed in the live NASA satellite feeds which track the fires around the world.

Thailand on fire - NASA satellite website tracks the country's farm fires | News by The Thaiger

CHART: Fires in the past 10 days around parts of Thailand – Firms.Modaps

Concentrations of the current fires can be seen in Central Thailand, north of Bangkok, parts of Isaan, north east of Bangkok, and around Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Notably the concentration of fires in northern Cambodia and across the north-western border in Myanmar, is also causing plenty of problems as the foreign smoke drifts across the borders. No matter what Thai officials do to enforce the rice, sugar and corn plantation burn-offs, there is little they can do about the haze drifting across the borders.

Bangkok, so close to clusters of fires, is in for a bad air pollution day anytime the light winds of the start of the year blow from the north or the east. The lack of rain adds to the problem, the annual problem, that engulfs Thailand’s capital during days between December and April, with the worst month, statistically, being March.

The alternative method of preparing for the next harvest, mechanical removal of the refuse and waste after harvesting, is both unpopular in Thailand and economically unviable for the small farmers whose margins remain thin with the multi-national buyers of their produce pushing for lower and lower prices every year.

In Chiang Mai, from January to the end of March, the locals even call it the ‘burning season’. Coupled with the hot season, the farmers in northern Thailand burn their fields to prepare land for the next harvest and also to get rid of biowastes like corn that can’t be sold in the market. It’s officially illegal to do the burn offs but the lack of enforcement leaves the problem unresolved and the smog and haze remain as predictable as the annual wet season.

Chiang Mai also has a local geographic problem which exacerbates the bad smoke pollution. The city is in a valley, surrounded by hills, trapping in the smoke and helping block any breezes that could otherwise blow it away.

For today, Bangkok’s air pollution is better than the past two days but still registering as ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ with city readings mostly between 140 – 170. Parts of the city, mostly south-east and south west, were registering readings above 300 in the past few days.

Thailand on fire - NASA satellite website tracks the country's farm fires | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: IQair.com

Watch this video for some more information about Bangkok’s smog…

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Thailand

Wildfires hit Mae Hong Son’s Pai district

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Wildfires hit Mae Hong Son’s Pai district | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Several wildfires have broken out in Mae Hong Son’s Pai district in Northern Thailand. The governor says he believes that several blazes happening in the area are a result of the dry season arriving earlier than usual.

Using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer system, the local forest fire control centre detected 155 so-called “heat points” in the Pai district from January 1 to 12. Last year’s dry season only 96 heat points were detected.

There are no reports of property damages, injuries, or deaths.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Dead whale found washed up on Koh Samui beach

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Dead whale found washed up on Koh Samui beach | The Thaiger
PHOTO: สิทธิโรจน์ แก้วหนองเสม็ด

A dead Bryde’s whale was found washed up on Koh Samui’s Choeng Mon beach yesterday. By the look of the rotting carcass, said to be around 11 metres long, marine resource specialist Thon Thamrongnawasawat says he believes the whale died several days ago. The cause of death is currently under investigation by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Thon said on Facebook.

“Currently, there are about 50 Bryde’s whales in the Gulf of Thailand. That means the situation of whales is still good and better than the dugongs. But I wish that there were no more 5 deaths per year from natural causes. If the death is over this limit, that will be worrying.”

The Bryde’s whales are spotted around the upper part of the Gulf of Thailand all year round, especially on the coastlines of Chonburi, Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao, Bang Khun Thian district of Bangkok, Samut Songkram and Petchaburi provinces.

SOURCE: Facebook | DMCR

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