Troubled waters

The Nation –

Mekong’s future remains uncertain as Thailand lights fuse on rapids-blasting project

As a new year dawns, the waters of the Mekong River remain turbulent with uncertainty. While many take holidays and prepare for the new year, the people of the Mekong face an unknown future.

Earlier this month, residents along the Mekong in Chiang Rai were preparing to participate in a public hearing about a project to canalise the Lancang-Mekong, popularly known as the Mekong “rapids-blasting” project. The Chiang Khong Conservation Group, a local environmental organisation, was informed by the Marine Department that eight hearings would be organised in districts along the Mekong in Chiang Rai from December 12-18. However, just one day before the meetings were due to begin, the group received a letter advising that the hearings would be postponed indefinitely.

Shocking change of direction

Just at the new year, an announcement was made that the hearings would be during this week (3-5 January). The sudden change of plans took the community group by surprise. This latest twist follows a pattern of contradictory statements regarding the plans for the rapids-blasting project.

Nearly two decades ago, China, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand signed the Agreement on Commercial Navigation on the Lancang-Mekong River.

Read more