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Petition Against Mekong Delta Dam Construction Receives Thousands of Signatures

As Laos prepares to move ahead with the construction of its second Mekong River dam, citizens of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are expressing their disapproval of the project.

Last week, An Giang province hosted the Mekong People’s Forum, a gathering which welcomed representatives from Thailand and Cambodia as well as Vietnam, reports Thanh Nien. The group met to discuss Laos' recent announcement that the country will move ahead with the second of 10 dams it has planned for the section of the Mekong River located within its borders. Experts have previously warned that Don Sahong Dam would serve as “fatal blow” for the river.

In a statement entitled “Mekong governments: Listen to the People!”, residents of the affected area called for swift action against further projects on the all-important river, which runs over 4,800 kilometers through six countries and supports upwards of 80 million people. The petition was signed by over 6,400 residents of the affected area.

“We who have grown up with the river are able to see even the smallest changes,” Huynh Thi Kim Duyen, a resident of Ca Mau province, told Thanh Nien. “We are worried about our future and the future of our children.”

Despite similarly vocal opposition in the past, however, the governing bodies of several Southeast Asian nations have failed to halt any of the river's ongoing development projects. In early September, Laos officials confirmed approval of its pending dam project, which is set to begin construction before 2016.

Add to Laos' 10 planned dams the additional six dams already built further upstream in China – never mind the dam projects being planned by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam – and the move spells disaster for residents further down the river. In addition to being among the most affected climate change regions in the world, a changing water supply and the increased salinization of water in the Mekong Delta will have a serious impact on those who live in the region.

Amnart Trijak, a community leader from Thailand's Nakornphanon province, had the right idea: “The governments have to stop looking only at their own territory. To do this is not reflecting the reality of our shared river. We the people should be able to take a key part in decision-making processes over the future of the rivers.”

[Photo via Flickr user The World Fish Center]


Related Articles:

40% Of The Mekong Delta Could Disappear By 2115

New Laos Dam Could “Kill” The Mekong Delta: Expert

Is Vietnam Committing Tourism Suicide?


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