For quite some time now, the World Wildlife Fund has been busy trying to fight off a development project that basically refers to having 11 dams built on Mekong's mainstream, and as many as 77 smaller dams erected in other parts of the river's basin.Despite numerous warnings issued by environmental scientists, who have argued that the project will most likely destroy local fish stocks, it now seems that the Lao government has chosen to ignore the effects this project will have on local biodiversity and to push forward with the construction of the Xayaburi dam.
Thus, it was only today when a ceremony was held in order to mark the beginning of construction activities.
As was to be expected, several green-oriented groups, together with other countries' high officials, did not take the news very well.
This was either because the Xayaburi hydropower dam in northern Laos will ruin biodiversity, or because this loss of biodiversity will negatively affect the region's economic stability.
More precisely, it is to be expected that the Mekong River will witness a severe decline in its fish population, meaning that local human communities will have to figure out a new way to make a living.
Commenting on this project, the Director for the World Wildlife Fund's Freshwater Programme, Dr Li Lifeng, made a case of how, “Laos appears to be recklessly intent on forging ahead with construction before the agreed impact studies have been completed.”
Furthermore, “Laos expects its neighbours to trust that the clear risks associated with this project will somehow be resolved while construction moves ahead. In pushing ahead with their Mekong dam experiment, Laos is jeopardizing the sustainability of one of the world’s great river systems, and all future transboundary cooperation.”
According to Inter Press Service, the US is also quite concerned about how this development project will impact on the Mekong River.
Thus, it was only yesterday when the country's State Department argued that, “The extent and severity of impacts from the Xayaburi dam on an ecosystem that provides food security and livelihoods for millions are still unknown. We are concerned that construction is proceeding before impact studies have been completed.”