This morning at the Expats Club meeting, the guest speaker was Tom Fawthrop, a journalist and South East Asia specialist. He showed a 30 minute cut of his film ‘KILLING THE MEKONG – DAM BY DAM’.
The Mekong is of course one of the great river systems of the world, rising in Tibet and discharging into the sea in a delta in southern Vietnam. It flows through 6 countries (China, Burma, Laos PDR, Thailand, Cambodia, and Viet Nam ). Because of it’s international nature, the Mekong River Commission has been set up to undertake management responsibility and is in the hands of its four Member Countries; Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. China and Burma are not members.
Daming the river is of course very controversial. China has already built 4 dams and one is planned for southern Laos at Xayaburi. Daming causes un-natural rises and falls in river levels in a non-seasonal way. and converts flowing water into still systems. Some fish migrate hundreds of kilometers and dams will cause migratory species to die out.The proposed site in Lao PDR includes the picturesque 4000 islands area and associated rapids and waterfalls. It is also the home of the already threatened Irrawaddy dolphins.
Four Thai banks have been critised for their financial support in the Xayaburi construction project ( Siam Commercial, Kasikorn, Khrung Thai, Bangkok Bank ).
The film presented one view. Like all issues there are other views. Some would argue that generation of “green” hydro electricirity instead of using fossil fuels is sufficient reason to continue with dams.