Tag Archives: Laos

Laos sees big fish as small price to pay for hydropower

25 Sep

article from Guardian.co.uk

Plans for hydropower plant on the Mekong River threaten habitat of four of the world’s largest freshwater fish, says WWF

Laos’ proposed hydropower plant threatens the habitat of giant Mekong catfish, such as this one weighing in at 292kg. Photograph: Suthep Kritsanavarin/AFP/Getty Images

Despite the risks to the world’s biggest freshwater fish, Laos has rejected calls for a dam moratorium on the lower reaches of the Mekong because it wants cheap power to develop its economy.

The south-east Asian nation moved this week to secure regional approval for the first major hydropower plant on its stretch of the river in the face of protests from international conservation groups.

Catfish the length of cars and stingrays that weigh more than tigers are threatened by the proposed 800m barrier, but the government said the economic benefits outweigh the environmental risks.

“We don’t want to be poor any more,” said Viraphone Viravong, director general of the country’s energy and mines department. “If we want to grow, we need this dam.”

In a submission to the Mekong river commission (MRC) on Wednesday, Laos said it wants to build a 1.26GW-hydropower plant at Sayabouly in northern Laos to generate foreign exchange income.

If approved, about 90% of the electricity would be sold to neighbours Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

It is part of a major plan to expand the economy through the utilisation of natural resources. According to Viravong, 20% of Laos’ GDP will come from hydropower and mining by 2020, up from about 4% today.

whole article @ Guardian.co.uk

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