Laos Gives Go Ahead To Build Controversial Dam

Posted November 5th, 2012 at 5:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Laos says it will start construction of a controversial dam, despite opposition from neighboring countries.

Deputy Energy Minister Viraphonh Viravong says the groundbreaking ceremony will take place on Wednesday.

The Xayaburi hydroelectric dam project on the Mekong River is expected to cost at least $3.5 billion. It is backed by a Thai company, with Thailand set to buy most of the electricity generated by the facility.

However, neighboring countries Cambodia and Vietnam have voiced objections to the dam, saying it could affect fish stocks and farming along the river.

Viraphonh says some of the dam's design has been changed to address the concerns. He says he believes the project will not have an adverse impact on the river.

There has been no immediate reaction from the governments of Cambodia or Vietnam.

The dam project is part of a plan by Laos to boost its economy by selling electricity to neighboring countries.