A press conference on “CSOs concerns over Pak Beng Hydropower Development on the Mekong mainstream” was organized on February 17, 2017 at NGOF’s office. The press conference aims to express concerns over the Pak Beng hydropower development and to release a joint statement of the the River Coalition in Cambodia (RCC) on concern over initiation of the procedure Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) process for Pak Beng hydropower project.
Dr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director of The NGO Forum on Cambodia and representative for RCC members, introduced a brief background of Pak Beng hydropower project which is connected to other two main projects of Xayabori and Don Sohong hydropower dams on the Mekong Mainstream. The proposed Pak Beng Hydropower dam would be the third dam constructed on the Mekong mainstreaming in Lao PDR. The project is situated in Oudomxay Province, northern Laos. The dam is a ‘run-of-river’ project with the capacity to generate 912 MW of electricity .
As representative for CSOs in Cambodia, he raised some concerns on the proposed new dam and released a joint statement to express great concerns over the notification by the Government of Laos of its intention to construct the Pak Beng dam of the Mekong River, and the commencement by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of the Prior Consultation for the Pak Beng dam under the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA). He added that as experiences to date shows little evidence that the concerns raised during Prior Consultation procedure will have any meaningful impact on decision-making. For both Xayaburi and Don Sahong, the procedure failed in its objective to ensure cooperation for the sustainable and equitable use of the Mekong River, as no agreement was reached between the governments on addressing the issues and the Prior Consultation procedure could not be formally resolved. We, members of the Rivers Coalition in Cambodia (RCC), and national and international civil society organizations, request to stop Pak Beng hydropower because it will negative impacts to millions of people in Mekong Mainstream (see details information of RCC’s joint statement).
Mr. Long Sochet, a representative of the Coalition of Cambodia Fishers (CCF) from Tonle Sap great lake, expressed concerns over impacts on water flow and water quality from hydropower dam. If the Pak Beng is ongoing construction, so other projects will be subsequently started. It would be hugely impacts to sources of water and biodiversity, especially fish migration and fish habitant. We are well known that people’s livelihoods in Tonle Sap they are completely relied on fisheries. In addition, the water regime will be impacted to flooded forests and rice fields. Therefore, we are not supported for hydropower development on Mekong Mainstream and its tributary.
Dr. Oeurng Chantha, lecturer and researcher of Institute Technology of Cambodia (ICT), provided overall overview of water governance in Mekong mainstream. According to the 1995 Mekong agreement, it is to allow Mekong member countries to respect on governance benefiting for sustainable use of water in the Mekong region. The Mekong Agreement states: “Prior consultation is neither a right to veto the use nor unilateral right to use water by any riparian without taking into account other riparians’ rights”. To ensure sustainability is not only focus on increased economic but also should be considered on social impacts which study on technical aspects of negative impacts. As experiences on Xayabori and Don Sahong, the study hasn’t cleared yet. It was a reason why MRC suggested for independent researcher to conduct more study. While we didn’t see some negative impacts and mitigation mechanisms from the existing projects, the new proposed project should not be happened.