Potential impacts of the Pak Lay hydropower project in Laos are discussed at the conference. (Photo: VNA)

Can Tho (VNA) – Representatives of Mekong Delta localities, central departments, and agencies, as well as scientists gathered at a conference in the city of Can Tho on January 15 to discuss the potential impacts of the Pak Lay hydropower project in Laos, especially to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region.

The event, the second of its kind so far, was chaired by Le Cong Thanh, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Vice Chairman of the Vietnam National Mekong Commission.

Participants were updated on the progress of the Mekong River Commission (MRC)’s technical assessment report on documents related to the project. Experts also gave their ideas on the Pak Lay hydropower plant and other projects in the Mekong River and recommendations to the Vietnam National Mekong Commission.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Le Cong Thanh said that Vietnam is paying great attention to the possible effects from hydropower plant construction to the environment and the socio-economic situation in the Mekong Delta region, which also go hand-in-hand with impacts from climate change.

According to head of the Vietnam National Mekong Commission’s Office Le Duc Trung, the MRC Secretariat will analyse information from the project and consider the ideas of experts as to how to best evaluate the impacts of the project and measures to reduce them. It will then propose that the MRC Joint Committee ask Laos to make appropriate adjustments.

The consultation plan will prepare Vietnam for the upcoming special meeting of the MRC Joint Committee in February 2019, he said.

Participants at the event raised concern that the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam will be greatly affected by hydropower development activities along the Mekong River mainstream, especially in the context of increasing demand for water resources in the river basin and impacts from climate change.

They held that the Vietnam National Mekong Commission should build a detailed evaluation system on the Pak Lay hydropower project, especially its impacts to the Mekong Delta region before it is launched.

Vice Director of the Dong Thap Department of Natural Resources and Environment Huynh Van Nguyen expressed that he was worried about the effects of the project to agricultural production in the lower Mekong river.–VNA