Thailand’s national electricity authority has decided to delay a decision to purchase power to be produced by a controversial Mekong River hydropower dam.
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) said in mid-February that it has delayed a decision to purchase power produced by the Pak Beng Dam in Laos until an ongoing review of the country’s power development plan can be completed.
While that may sound like a technicality, it’s being interpreted by analysts as a sign that, along with other issues involved, the Thai government has been listening to concerns about the dam expressed by local Thai communities and by civil society groups.
These communities and organizations have for several years been outspoken in pointing to the potential negative environmental impacts resulting from construction of the Pak Beng dam, including on Thailand.
Thailand’s review of its national power development plan is expected to be complete at the end of this month. It could now determine whether the dam will be built or not.
According to experts, the dam could severely affect downstream fishermen and farmers by disrupting fish migration patterns and blocking vital sediment flows needed to refresh farmland, plants, and the smaller organisms on which the fish feed.
Other dams in China, Laos, and Cambodia block adult fish trying to migrate upstream and larvae and juveniles trying to migrate downstream.
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Dan Southerland, RFA’s founding executive editor.
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