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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs  16 October 2010

Laos files first Mekong dam application

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(KPL) Laos has recently filed an application for the building of Sayaboury dam, a mainstream dam on the Mekong River, to be located in the northwestern province of Sayaboury. This is the first application by a riparian country in the Mekong River Commission, encompassing Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, to build such a dam

There have been proposals for the building of 11 mainstream dams or dams on the Mekong River in the Lower Mekong Basin. They would be located in three of the four riparian countries. Vietnam will be the only riparian country that will not have any such proposal.

Up to date, four mainstream are operational but are all located on the upper reach of the Mekong River in China, known as Mekong Lancang River. China has intended to build another four dams on its Mekong-Lancang River.

Referring to the green light to the Sayaboury dam, a source of the journalist in MRC, said that the heads of the departments of water resources of the four riparian countries, would be given six months to consider Laos's application for the building of this dam.

The most important aspect of the consultation process is to have the four parties to hammer out a consensus.

The source also said it was plausible the riparian countries might request for an extension period to enable them to work harder than ever to come to a consensus. She added that since this was the first time that such an application had been made, it would be a learning for all the parties connected with the application process.

However, according to the journalist's other source in the MRC, if there was a deadlock at the first level, the application would move up to the next or higher level, for consideration by the ministers of water resources of the four riparian countries.

Supposing that the ministers failed to reach a consensus, then the matter would go the highest and final level, international arbitration.

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