Vientiane, Lao PDR, 21 Dec 2018
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 21 December 2018 – Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam have recently consulted national stakeholders on the proposed Pak Lay hydropower project during the six-month prior consultation process for the project.
In Cambodia, the Cambodia National Mekong Committee Secretariat organized on 28 September 2018 its first national meeting in Siem Reap with 84 people in attendance. In Thailand, the Thai National Mekong Committee Secretariat held the same meeting on 9 November 2018 in Loei Province, with 111 participants representing eight provinces in along the Mekong in Thailand. The Viet Nam National Mekong Committee Secretariat convened the consultation on 18 September 2018 with the attendance of 60 people.
Aiming to share information on the proposed project as well as to listen to concerns and obtain feedback from the stakeholders, the meetings raised similar concerns and provided many recommendations for project improvement.
One of the issues raised was around data use, data sources and baseline information that were used to assess the proposed project. Stakeholders across the three countries suggested that the data need to be updated to provide a more accurate analysis of impact on all aspects, including water quality, hydrology and sediment, dam safety, fisheries and fish passages. When updated, they suggested, the data would provide a much clearer picture of impact on agriculture and local traditional livelihoods, including socio-economic welfare, along the Mekong.
The national stakeholders were also concerned about what they called specific impact on the alteration of the river ecosystem and bank erosion, backwater effect and potential transboundary impacts on tributaries.
Together, they suggested having proper mitigation measures and compensation for the affected communities. Having upstream and downstream fish passages, and free navigation were two other suggestions they made.
There was also a suggestion to include public participation and engagement in data collection and monitoring as they believed this is necessary. They went on to suggest that the project developer should be active in providing information and responding to inquiries during the six-month prior consultation process.
During the prior consultation process, which will end in late March 2019, the MRC Secretariat has planned for two regional stakeholder forums, and two national consultation meetings in each notified country.
The first regional stakeholder forum, convened on 20 September 2018 in Vientiane, gathered some 160 participants from various stakeholder groups. They raised questions and concerns and collectively made many recommendations to improve the project, which received response and feedback from the MRC Secretariat. These are all documented in the forum report available on the MRC website.
The second regional forum is slated for 17 January 2019 in Luang Prabang. It is free and open to any interested stakeholders, in particular to those unable to join the national meetings.
Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam will continue to conduct their respective second national consultation meetings between December 2018 and February 2019.
The MRC Secretariat, in the process of technical review of the proposed project, has considered comments from both the first regional and national consultation meetings. These comments will be reflected in detail at the January’s regional stakeholder forum.