The construction of a controversial dam on the Mekong River will start this week, the Laos government announced on Monday.
“After two years of preparation the Laos government will have a ground breaking ceremony on November 7 and will then start working on the dam itself in the Mekong river this week,” Laos Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Viraphonh Viravong told AFP.
The $3.8 billion project will be built at Xayaburi by Thai consortium CH Karnchang. Communist Laos has faced criticism over the dam from neighboring countries and environmentalists alike.
Viraphonh told the BBC that the government is “very confident” there would be no environmental effects produced by the Mekong River dam. However, he admitted that “We have to balance between the benefits and the costs.”
Environmentalists have said that the project would be a disaster for the some 60 million people living near the river who depend on it for their livelihood, AFP said.
Cambodia and Vietnam also expressed worry that the dam would affect the migration of fish and the flow of sediment downstream. Laos authorities said they brought in contractors and claim the problems were solved, according to the BBC.
There have been complaints that the modifications that were done by Laos authorities to improve fish and sediment flow have not been tested, however, according to the broadcaster.
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