CHIANG RAI – The Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces said Thursday that they are planning to boycott a public hearing for the Laos-based Pak Lay hydroelectric project scheduled for Friday. Saying it’s nothing but an attempt to “rubber stamp the dam to justify its construction.
“We will not participate in the PNPCA process,” the network, a vocal grassroots group that campaigns against the development of dams in the region, said.
“This process is merely aimed at rubber stamping yet another project in the Mekong,” it said.
PNPCA stands for the procedures for notification, prior consultation and agreement. The procedures must be carried out before dams are built in the Mekong given their potential ramifications on the environment and local communities.
“For nearly 10 years our coalition had participated in similar processes regarding the Xayaburi, Don Sahong and Pak Bang hydroelectric projects. We found our concerns fell on deaf ears and our opposition [had no impact],” the group read.
The social and environmental impact hearing for the dam was scheduled for Friday in Bung Kan province. It is the second hearing after the first was held in Chiang Khan district in Loei province last month.
The hearing is part of a voluntary agreement among countries in the Mekong region.
It would become the fourth hydroelectric dam to be built in the lower Mekong following the aforementioned three, which are all in Laos.
The Lao government is developing the project with funding from China’s national bank.
If it is approved and completed, the 770-megawatt dam would sell electricity to Thailand. Construction plans show it would be 51 metres tall and 942m wide.
Laos said it plans to start construction next year regardless of resistance from Thai protesters.
The dam, located in Xayaburi province’s Pak Lay district would be operational by 2029.
Today’s hearing was organized in Thailand due to the trans-boundary impact of the project, just 92km from Loei. The regional body overseeing the Mekong welcomed the news of today’s meeting.