Overview of the event (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – The Vietnam National Mekong Committee (VNMC) held a national consultation in Ho Chi Minh City on September 18 to look into Laos’ Pak Lay hydropower project.

The Pak Lay project is proposed to be located on the Mekong mainstream in Pak Lay district of Xayaburi province. It will be the fourth of the 11 hydropower projects to be built on the Mekong mainstream across Laos and Cambodia. Its construction is scheduled to start in 2022 and to be completed and put into use by 2029.

The VNMC said as a member of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Vietnam plays an important role in consultations on previous hydropower projects and preparations for upcoming meetings on the Pak Lay project. 

The VNMC Standing Office has built a plan on consultation activities that will help the VNMC, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and other relevant ministries and sectors assess the project’s possible impact, including in other countries that the Mekong mainstream traverses.

The country’s constructive participation in regional consultations held by the MRC will also help relevant sides understand its viewpoints on the Pak Lay hydropower project and upstream hydroelectric developments.

Vietnam will participate in a special session of the MRC in February 2019 to announce its official opinions on the project, the VNMC said.

Le Thi Huong from the VNMC Standing Office said that Vietnam has actively conducted independent studies and taken into consideration the cross-border impact of all mainstream hydropower projects to compare their results with assessments made by the MRC Secretariat and Laos.

It has also increased communications regarding the issue in the Mekong Delta region and kept close coordination with Laos in the consultation process, she added.

Last June, the Lao National Mekong Committee submitted a detailed description of the planned project to the MRC Secretariat for review and to inform member countries about the project. This is the first step in the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation, and Agreement regarding the cooperation and use of the Mekong mainstream’s water.

At the workshop, Director of the Kien Giang provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Van Tam said the Pak Lay project could change the flow of the Mekong River and affect agricultural production in downstream areas. Therefore, localities in the Mekong Delta should be prepared to adjust local agriculture to become resilient to the impact of the plant’s operations in the future.

Deputy Director of the An Giang provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Cam Khuong said it is necessary to gather opinions on how to minimise the project’s negative impacts on the Mekong Delta. Local provinces and cities should also build suitable socio-economic development plans in response to the project’s influence. –VNA