PHNOM PENH - Cambodian authorities say they hope to make a trip to Laos by the end of the year to inspect a planned dam on the Mekong River that could have lasting impacts on the country.
Laos has moved forward with construction of the dam, in Xayaburi province, despite the misgivings of its Mekong neighbors.
On Thursday, Reuters quoted the Thai developer of the dam as saying work has continued, despite assurances from Laos in December 2011 it was stopping construction.
“We want to see clearly with our own eyes what Laos is doing up there,” said Lim Kean Hor, head of Cambodia’s Mekong River Commission, told VOA Khmer a visit there would be “to see clearly what is happening on the Lao side.” The observers would then put together a report addressing the concerns of government officials, he said.
“The measures taken at the technical level have been done, and we have to continue with top leaders to make decisions,” he said.
The $3.5-billion dam would be one of the largest of at least 11 planned for the river. Environmentalists say it could have devastating impacts on the Mekong’s fish population, a major food source for millions of Cambodians.
Both Vietnam and Cambodia have protested the construction of the Xayaburi dam because of concerns over its impact on the fish and overall ecology of the river.
Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia director for International Rivers, a conservation group, said construction on the dam needs to stop “immediately, until the necessary studies are carried out and there is regional agreement to build this dam.”