Laos damages Mekong river with more dams / 上游國家競建壩 湄公河生態陷危機
The Mekong river is the longest river in Southeast Asia, rising in southeastern Qinghai province, China, also known as the Lancang River. It flows through 6 different countries, China's Yunnan province, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. China has built six dams on its stretch of the Mekong since the mid-1990s, which posed great threat for the downstream residents as well as the wildlife species. Now Lao government is forging ahead with more dam-building spree, meaning the future of this mighty waterway is in grave danger.
These adorable-looking dolphins can be found along the Mekong River and they are called Irrawaddy Dolphins. In Cambodia, they inhabit a large stretch of the Mekong river and the majority of this dolphin territory is in the section of river that runs through the town of Kratie in east-central Cambodia. However, the Lao government's plan to build multiple dams is putting these animals at risk. The majestic Mekong River stretches some 4,800 km from the Tibetan plateau to the South China Sea, carving through China's Yunnan province, then Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Mekong flows out of China from southern Yunnan, where it is known locally as the Lancang River. In mid-1990s, China's construction of dams and a navigation channel along the upper reaches of the Mekong threatened the complex ecosystem. Take Chiang Khong as an example, it is in the far north of Thailand, where the Mekong forms the country's border with Lao. More than a decade ago, a Chiang Khong fisherman's day's catch was ten or more kilograms. Now, it's one or two kilograms or often nothing. The river once supported one of the world's most diverse fisheries, now some species of fish have gone altogether, and fishing as a main livelihood has almost disappeared. There are currently two massive dams under construction, the Laos government is proposing a total of 9 hydropower dams along the river. These projects have not only angered Cambodia and environmental groups in Thailand, but it also triggered a rare rebuke by Laos's biggest ally, Vietnam.
==NIWAT ROYKAEW Founder of Chiang Khong Conservation Group,==
Dam is very dangerous for the river. It's very dangerous because dam changes everything. Change ecology, change level of the river water, change way of the water. So I think have problem. Big problem.
Over 60 million people depend on the Mekong and its tributaries for food, water, transport and many other aspects of their daily lives. However, the construction of the dams are destroying many communities downstream, affecting local fishing and farming.
==KAMPAI BUNMEE Laotian-Thai villager==
I'm really worried, the river bank accounts for 20% of the farmland, and all of these could be inundated.
==PIANPORN DEETES Rivers International Campaigner==
What we are really looking for now is the mechanism to regulate and to manage all of the river as a river, not as each section owned by different companies.
The construction of the dams is an ominous sign for the river's 60 million downstream residents and some of the world's most endangered wildlife species. The future of this mighty waterway is in grave danger.
TRANSLATED BY：STELLA TU
有東方多瑙河美譽的湄公河，cg in 流經中國，緬甸，寮國，泰國，柬埔寨和越南六國，cg out 是亞洲第七大河流，在中國雲南境內叫做瀾滄江，1990年代中期，中國在瀾滄江攔水興建六座大壩，對下游造成嚴重衝擊，泰北清萊和寮國以湄公河為界的清孔縣，十多年前漁夫每天還能自湄公河打撈十多公斤的漁獲，現在頂多一兩公斤，有時甚至什麼也抓不到，部份魚類品種已經消失。今年春天聖嬰現象作祟，越南等地鬧乾旱，湄公河也無法發揮紓解功能，這些都是中國建水壩的後遺症。
記者 曾惠敏 報導