Vietnam scientists ask PM to stop Lao dam project

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Scientists at the Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN) on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Vietnam's National Mekong Committee to prevent the Xayaburi Dam from being built on the Mekong River's mainstream in Laos.

Dao Trong Tu, a consultant at VRN, told Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspaper that experts recently sent letters asking the PM and the committee to voice their opposition to the Lao government.

Last year, officials from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam  the other three members of the Mekong River Commission insisted that the government of Laos defer work on the US$3.8 billion Xayaburi dam.

However, recent efforts by Thai power companies, investors and banks have once again raised concerns over the construction of the dam, which was designed to generate power for export.

On April 17, the CH. Karnchang Public Company Limited (one of Thailand's leading general contractors) informed the Stock Exchange of Thailand that its subsidiary, Ch Karnchang (Lao) Co, had signed a US$711 million contract to build the dam in Laos.

The Bangkok Post recently reported that 3,000 residents living around the construction site have already been relocated.

"It is unacceptable to resume construction on the Xayaburi dam," Vietnamese scientists wrote in the joint letter addressed to PM Dung.

The team of experts insisted that construction of the dam  the first of 11 proposed on the Lower Mekong mainstream will directly threaten the livelihoods of around 20 million residents in the Mekong Delta as well as Vietnam's national and regional food security.

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