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Xayaburi dam construction to proceed

The Laos government will continue to allow what it has dubbed “preparatory work” on the controversial Xayaburi dam, including the resettlement of villagers, despite promising to suspend the project at last week’s ASEAN Regional Forum, according to a media report in Laos.

Laos Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Viraphonh Viravong was yesterday quoted in the Vientiane Times saying on Friday “we have nothing to hide”.

At a briefing ahead of the scheduled arrival of Mekong River Commission delegates from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam yesterday, Viravong reportedly said the activities would have no negative impact on the Mekong River.

But conservationists and downstream countries disagree.

International Rivers Southeast Asia policy coordinator Kirk Herbertson said an announcement made by Lao Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith on Friday that the project had been suspended needed to be treated with caution.

“In order for the project to be fully suspended, all construction would have to stop and the Thai government would have to withdraw funding, cancel the power purchase agreement and order Ch.Karnchang to stop construction,” he said.

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