No More Dams on the Mekong - NYTimes.com
BANGKOK — The Mekong River runs more than 4,000 kilometers, from China into Myanmar and then through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, where it empties into the sea. Traditionally a major transport route and food source, it is also increasingly becoming a supply of energy — at its own peril and at the cost of instability among states in the region.
Several large dams already straddle the Mekong in China, and construction on more dams downstream is underway. (...)
Energy security and economic development are legitimate goals, of course, but these main-stem dams were conceived with little regard for their environmental consequences and socioeconomic repercussions. The proposed dams will prevent sediment from the upper stretches of the Mekong River from reaching its delta, depriving rice fields in lower Vietnam of essential nutrients. They will also disrupt the migratory patterns of fish, which will endanger the stocks on which Cambodians, especially, rely for much of their protein intake.
Such prospects have already caused tensions, and have even strained relations among some governments in the region. Laos, for example, has proceeded with construction on the Xayaburi dam, the first in the main-stem series, over objections from the governments of Cambodia and Vietnam, which are concerned about the project’s impact on the environment and food security.