SYDNEY: Beyond concern for the undoubted human costs of the collapse of a dam in Laos, this event once again focuses attention on the long-term effect of the massive expansion of hydropower in the Mekong Basin. While international attention has tended to be directed towards existing and planned dams on the mainstream of the Mekong in China and Laos, less attention has been given to the fact that plans are in place for the construction of up to 120 dams on tributaries of the Mekong – the dam that collapsed in Attapeu province in the far south of Laos is a case in point. And although some of the dams are relatively small in size, others, such as the Lower Se San 2 dam in northwestern Cambodia, which is now in operation, are substantially larger, with a 400 MW capacity and projected major future effects on fish stocks. Nonetheless, it is in Laos that the greatest expansion of tributary dams is planned as part of that country's determination to become "the battery of Southeast Asia". It is pushing ahead with completion of its existing mainstream dams at Xayaburi and Don Sahong, and shows no intention of ceasing to build on… Read full this story
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