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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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Laos halts work on Don Sahong dam

Mekong River following environmental and other concerns

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Laos has suspended construction of its controversial Don Sahong hydropower dam on the Mekong River following environmental and other concerns expressed by neighboring nations, according to the country's new envoy to Cambodia, but the dam's Malaysian developer says the project is forging ahead.

Lao ambassador Prasith Sayasith announced the suspension during a meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong on Tuesday, China's Xinhua news agency reported, citing Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Kuy Kuong.

It is believed to be the first time a Lao official has announced a freeze on construction of the dam since a regional meeting in

Thailand in June when it agreed to allow greater scrutiny on the project, following criticism from neighbors and environmentalists.

"Following past meetings in Thailand, Laos has decided to suspend the construction of Don Sahong hydropower dam," Koy Kuong quoted the ambassador as saying to Hor Namhong.

The Don Sahong is the second controversial dam project being implemented by Laos on Southeast Asia's key Mekong River.

Hor Namhong, who is also Cambodia's foreign minister, welcomed the suspension and referred to the 1995 Mekong Agreement, which says that any proposed mainstream dam in the lower Mekong Basin must be extensively discussed by all four lower Mekong countries before proceeding.

The three lower Mekong nations besides Laos consist of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam—all of which have formally called for a halt in the construction of the 260-megawatt Don Sahong dam to allow for further impact studies.

However, Malaysian dam developers Mega First Corporation Berhad said Wednesday that construction on the Don Sahong was going ahead as planned, according to a report by the Phnom Penh Post.

 

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