Thailand diverts Mekong, Vietnam put in danger

VietNamNet Bridge - Thailand has begun taking water from the Mekong River and pumping it into its northeastern areas, which are suffering from drought. However, it did not consult in advance with neighboring countries, which are all members of the Mekong River Council (MRC).


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Ignoring the strong opposition from the regional and international public, Thailand still decided to implement the project on diverting the Mekong to bring water to drought-stricken areas in Thai territory.

Bangkok Post quoted the spokesman of Thai RID (Royal Irrigation Department) as saying that the agency has taken the first move of the project – running 3 pump stations with capacity of 12,000 liters per second each – to bring water from the Mekong to Huay Laung in Nong Khai province to ease the drought there.

RID said that the volume of water to be taken is small, and would in no way affect the water level of Mekong.

A source commented that RID used the word ‘used’ instead of ‘divert’ when reporting the activity so as to bypass the MRC consultation process. Meanwhile, the activity clearly aims to take away water out of the Mekong mainstream.

Under the rules of water utilization, any activity of diverting the mainstream must be consulted or allowed by MRC countries.

Lam Thi Thu Suu from the Vietnam River Network said on Dat Viet that under the rules of water utilization, any activity of diverting the mainstream must be consulted or allowed by MRC countries.

“They (Thailand) have to consult with MRC on the diversion project first, and then the Vietnam Mekong River Committee. Besides, it also has to consult with the community and involved parties,” she said.

Senglong Youk from Cambodian FACT (Fisheries Action Coalition Team) affirmed that it is a bad project because it will affect millions of people living on the Mekong riverside, and that even Thai people don’t support the project.

Meanwhile, Sopheak Meas from MRC affirmed that MRC’s secretariat has not received any notice about the fact that the government of Thailand wants to divert Mekong River.

Philip Hirsch from Sydney University warned that if a big volume of water is taken away from Mekong mainstream, this will be dangerous to water security in the dry season in Cambodia and Vietnam.

He said that residents in Mekong River Delta in Vietnam rely heavily on the water from Mekong on irrigation and daily use in dry season. 

Vietnamese also need Mekong’s water to prevent saltwater intrusion. Therefore, reducing the current in the upper course will have big negative impact on the lower course.

Pianporn Deetes, in Thanh Nien’s interview, said Thailand should be reminded that Mekong River is the common natural resource of six countries, including two in the lower course.

Vo Tong Xuan, a renowned Vietnamese rice expert, said Vietnam will suffer the most from the Thai project.


Dat Viet

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