A high-ranking delegation from Cambodia led by Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Hor Namhong visited the Don Sahong hydropower project in Champassak province on Saturday to observe progress of the project, especially fish passage improvements.
Mr. Hor Namhong and his delegation are visiting Laos from October 28 to November 1 in response to an invitation from the Lao government.
During their visit to the project site the visiting delegation was received by Minister of Energy and Mines Dr Khammany Intharath.
The ministry’s Office Permanent Secretary Dr Daovong Phonekeo said the objective of the visit was to provide accurate information to the Cambodian delegation so they would be able to explain the project’s measures to mitigate environmental impacts, especially on fish, to their people.
After the visit, Mr. Hor Namhong and his delegation were briefed on technical aspects of the project and gained an understanding of how the developer was implementing measures to mitigate environmental impacts which may affect neighbouring countries.
Dr Daovong said many groups of people had expressed concern about the project as they thought such a large dam on the Mekong River would impact the passage of fish and reduce fish populations.
The Lao government has invited all interested groups to visit the site so they can receive accurate information and understand more about the project.
Many people who previously visited the site came to understand the hydropower scheme because the dam blocked only one channel of the Mekong River, he said. A day earlier, European Union Ambassador to Cambodia Mr. George Edgar also visited the Don Sahong site.
Ambassador Edgar said he was very impressed with the work the Don Sahong staff had done in the fisheries monitoring and management programmes.
The primary purpose of his visit was to learn about potential impacts on downstream communities in Cambodia, he said. Ambassador Edgar’s visit coincided with a daylong inspection tour conducted by a team of researchers from the Washington-based Stimson Centre and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Director of Stimson’s Southeast Asia Programme, Mr. Brian Eyler, returned to Don Sahong one year after an earlier visit, to get an update on the progress of the fisheries research and actual construction.
We are most interested in visiting Don Sahong to learn how fishing mitigation efforts are paying off through the two excavated channels adjacent to the Sahong channel, said Mr. Eyler. Another purpose of the team’s visit was to gain a better understanding of southern Laos’ regional connection to Vietnam and Thailand, emerging energy investment opportunities, and energy use in the south, he added.
Source: Vientiane Times