The deputy director of Laos' Water Resources and Environment Agency confirms that the investors of the Nam Theun 1 hydropower dam have completed their assessment studies of the social and environment impacts of the project and have submitted it to the agency.
However, says Mr. Sisavath Viphaxay, the assesment is deemed inadequate and his agency has asked investors Gamuda of Malaysia and ECCO of Thailand to expand the studies to include the potential impacts of the construction of the 150 km-long transmission line from the proposed dam on the Pak Kading river in Borikhamsay province to the power substation in Ban Nabong, Vientiane, and their plan to compensate the people who will be affected. The transmission line will pass through 48 villages in 4 districts in Borikhamsay.
Gamuda and co-investor ECCO, an arm of EGAT or the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lao government in 2004 to build the Nam Theun 1 on the Pak Kading river, about 30 km from the Mekong river. The 523 MW dam is expected to cost over 700 million dollars to build. The NT1 investors expect to start construction this year so that they can export the electricity to Thailand in 2013.
The NT1 project is part of the Lao government's efforts to build some 29 hydropower dams so that it can meet its commitment to sell as much as 7,000 MW of electricity to Thailand.
Environmental groups such as the International Rivers have voiced concerns about the NT1 as well as the Nam Ngum 3 dam.
Listen to our report for further details in Lao.