Laos playing Mekong roulette with dam

Mekong River
NGO International Rivers says a new Laos dam is playing roulette with the Mekong River by using unproven methods for preserving biodiversity and protecting communities downriver. Image: Wikimedia - Allie Caulfield.

Laos has approved the controversial Thai-backed Xayaburi hydroelectric dam despite concerns from neighbouring countries that the dam will destroy livelihoods, ecosystems and crucial sources of protein.

The dam will be the first on the main branch of the Mekong River, and under a regional agreement should only go ahead after a consultation process involving the countries impacted by the river. The Laos government claims it has addressed the necessary environmental impacts, but critics - namely the NGO International Rivers - say it has rubber-stamped the project using its own experts and untested technology.

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