Thai, Chinese Experts Clash Over Benefits Of Mekong Dams

BANGKOK, Thailand

At a seminar on “The Sustainable Development of Water Resources” at Chulalongkorn University, Chinese experts on the social effects of hydropower development on the Mekong River met opposition from Thai academics who argued that locals lose more than they gain since dams impact heavily on every aspect of their lives.

While accepting that dams had adverse impacts on the environment, river ecosystem, and the livelihoods of local people, the Chinese delegates said, July 1, these could be mitigated by technology and good management.

A Chinese expert cited a survey of families relocated upon construction of the Nuozhadu Dam that described people being resettled in modern high-rise residential buildings with access to access electricity and tap water as well as better access t education and healthcare than perviously available to rural farmers.

The Thai delegation, however, questioned the results of the survey, pointing out they ran counter to many other similar academic studies, in Thailand and elsewhere, that found relocated residents suffered severe negative impacts that increased social problems. “These people lose not only their home, but also their knowledge of the local environment and natural resources that sustain them. Finding new careers and job training are not the answer for this problem, as not all people can suddenly adapt to their new way of life", according to a Thai academic's contribution. (The Nation)

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