Within the last month I have learned of;
A proposed lignite (soft sulphurous coal) power plant to be built in Xayabouli province at the site of the former annual elephant ho down in Hongsa. New Mandela
Ferry Boat at the Thadua crossing Xaiyabouli
A hydro power dam on the Nam Tha, would flood out 15 villages some of which are resettled Lao seung. You know those people brought down to the river valleys to “modernize” them and wean them from growing opium. It’s all in Nalae district, which I’m unfamiliar with. More Mandella
I found out about an intended 1410 mega watt plant in Luang Prabang while trying to find a link for this post. Reuters
The one that hits home the hardest is the dam on the Nam Ou of about 600 mega watt capacity with three more in the plans. It’s the most beautiful big river I’ve seen in Laos. Pnomsin Blog
Kids making ripples on the Nam Ou above Hatsa
In Vientiane the Tat Luang marsh is slated to be developed by a Chinese investor into an instant city. When driving out of town this tributary of the Mekong called Houay Mak Hiao was always my indicator that the city had been left behind. It’s beyond the two big markets of Ban Tat Luang. When driving over the bridge you can see all the rice growing up and down stream. The Lao government proposed a site further from downtown, but the Chinese insisted. Whose city is it anyway? I guess the person with the money’s.
One ray of hope is the simple math of this message posting to an online group, sorry can’t link.
"Given that the Lao Government budget revenues amount to around $500 million a year, a simple calculation indicates that a 20% investment in the hydro scheme would amount to around a third of government budget revenues for any given year. Given also that the government is concurrently signing several such agreements I wonder where the government contribution is coming from. Is it simply a gift from the developers in return for government complicity? "The writer is referring to the one hydro plant on the Nam Ou, estimated cost $700 to $800 million.
My worry is that modernization will mean that corrupt officials are now better able to quickly strip Laos of it’s existing timber, poison it’s watersheds with effluent from various mines, and flood all the lowlands for exported electricity? Is China the example of what Laos will look like in twenty years?