Laos and Thailand have signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to allow private companies to perform a feasibility study on the construction of a flooding dam on the Mekong river linking Laos' Champassak province to Thailand's Ubon Rachathani.
The MoU, signed by Laos' Foreign Minister Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith and his Thai counterpart Noppadon Pattama during a recent visit by the Thai delegation, stipulates that private investors must fund the feasibility study themselves and, upon completion, present study results to both governments, who will decide whether or not to go ahead with the project.
Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama says the new dam, estimated to cost over 100 million bahts, will raise the Mekong level behind the dam by more than ten meters, will bring enormous benefits to Thai and Lao people by way of irrigation and electricity, and is another example of Laos' and Thailand's cooperation in the development of the Mekong river.
The dam will be the 6th one to be built on the Mekong in Laos. Feasibility studies are being done on five other projects, in Luang Prabang, Sayabouly, Paklay, Sanakham, and Done Sahong in Champassak province.
Environmental groups including the International Rivers have expressed objection to these projects, citing destructive impacts on the environment and the people making their living from the river.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.