Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Xayabuli Dam

Before we leave Laos, I want to tell you about one thing I discovered after our trip. But, before that, I want to remind you... You're probably wondering why, if this is a blog about The Isaan, I'm spending so much time on Laos, Lao and the pathet Lao...

It is as I wrote earlier in 2012: Isaan people are ethnically the same as the lowland Lao. One of my dreams is to see families from across the border someday get in touch with one another. I mean, there's no coincidence that a town in Lao is named after my wife's family name...

Back to Lao...

Little did I know that when we visited Pak Lai in May 2012, we were in an area whose ecosystem is in great danger from daming.

Upriver from Pak Lai, the Xayabuli Dam is a hydroelectric dam currently under construction on the Lower Mekong River, approximately 30 kilometres (19 miles) east of the town/city of Xayabuli (aka Xayaburi, Sainyabuli). The main purposed of the dam is to produce hydroelectric power for internal and external purposes. Construction briefly began and was suspended in early 2012 but is purported to again be underway. The project is surrounded in controversy due complaints from downstream riparians and environmentalists who fear that implementation of the dam would put an end to the world’s largest freshwater fishery.

The daming of the Mekong is a hot political topic in this part of the world. By that, I mean that all the governments bordering the Mekong are in contention over their share of harnessing the river for hydroelectric use. By and large, the people in those countries could care less – even the ones who live along the Mekong and depend on it for their livelihood – except that they certainly like the electricity that’s generated by the dams.

No Mekong-border country is really against daming, per se, despite studies indicating enormous environmental consequences. They just want their fair share of the energy.

In August 2013, I updated my information and links to other information about the Xayabuli dam. Please visit: http://the-isaan.blogspot.com/2013/08/lao-trip-47.html

For more about damming the lower Mekong River, please go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mekong_River_Basin_Hydropower

Interestingly, I found out that back in our village in the Isaan, we get most of our electricity from the second phase of the Nam Ngum dam, within Lao.

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