Preah Sihanouk Province, Cambodia (SPX) Apr 08, 2011
As the deadline for reaching a decision comes closer, four Lower Mekong Basin Countries have agreed to convene a special session on the prior consultation process for the proposed Xayaburi mainstream hydropower development project, before determining how they should proceed with the proposal.
The countries, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, reached this decision at the 33rd Mekong River Commission (MRC) Joint Committee (JC) Meeting in Preah Sihanouk Province which ends tomorrow. They agreed that they would join with the intent to seek a conclusion at the newly-scheduled meeting on 21 April 2011.
The Xayaburi project, proposed by the Government of Lao PDR, falls under the MRC's Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) process, which require that the four countries come together with the aim of reaching a conclusion on the proposal within six months of its submission. The deadline for the end of this formal process is 22 April 2011.
The Xayaburi project, designed to generate power for consumption in Thailand and Lao PDR, is tabled for consideration, among other management, organisational and procedures-related matters, at this internal meeting. The JC Members, comprising one senior official from each of the four countries, agree to hold a special Joint Committee meeting in Vientiane, Lao PDR to come to a conclusion on the project.
Since the notification of what would be the first dam project on the mainstream of the Lower Mekong River, the countries have conducted national consultations with related stakeholders including potentially affected communities, to gauge their views and perspectives on the project. The MRC Secretariat also commissioned a team of experts in several sectors including fisheries, sediment and dam safety design to review documents including the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted by the Government of the Lao PDR to other MRC countries.
The JC Members also agreed to disclose to the public the MRC technical review which has been used by the four countries as part of their consideration of the project.
The report was presented at the meeting but the Member Countries have not provided their official comments on it yet. Lao PDR, as the notifying country, commented that the report is a valuable contribution to the process of considering the Xayaburi project as well as other similar development initiatives but will provide its detailed comments at a later time.
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