Just last week, members of the World Wildlife Fund and several other non-governmental organizations went on a trip to Laos. Once there, they met with government officials in order to discuss the progress made on the country's plan to build a dam on the Lower Mekong River.
Apparently, although back in 2011 high officials in Laos promised that they would wait for studies to be carried out so as to determine the exact environmental impact of said dam, construction operations have already begun.
reports that Jian-hua Meng, a hydropower specialist, wished to make it as clear as possible that “Laos expects its neighbors to take a dangerous leap of faith and trust that the risks associated with this project will somehow be resolved while construction moves ahead.”
The researcher further explained how “This dubious approach not only pre-empts the conclusions of the on-going studies, but clearly contravenes international best practices.”
The same source informs us that, according to green-oriented protocols, before moving on and begin building the Xayaburi dam, Laos' government should have waited for environmental specialists to look into how local plant and animal species are bound to respond to this major chance in their natural habitat.
More so since the river they are targeting is home to nearly 700 varieties of fish, one of which – the Mekong giant catfish – is both a national icon and an endangered species.
Rumor has it that, by the end of this year, Laos will have successfully completed building a coffer dam (i.e. a temporary enclosure that allows for water to be drained out so as to accommodate for construction platforms).
Environmentalists and conservationists alike claim that there is still time to block the construction of the Xayaburi river dam until all of the necessary studies are carried out, provided that people voice their complaints.