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Public Discussions Planned for Controversial Laos Dam

Cambodian non-governmental organization (NGOs) activists shout slogans during a protest against a proposed Don Sahong dam, in a tourist boat along the Tonle Sap river, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The activists use a tour boat to campaign their opposition against the building of the mega dam. Authority on Thursday banned more than a hundred NGOs activists included Buddhist monks for protests on the tourist boats, saying activists, for their event to share the concerns of more than a quarter of million people calling on Mega First Corporation to suspend construction of the controversial Don Sahong hydropower project on the Mekong River in Laos. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

The Cambodian National Mekong Committee will hold a series of round-table discussions with local officials, NGOs and people from communities living along the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, to collect comments and concerns over a controversial dam in Laos.

The discussions over the Don Sahong Dam will start in Stung Treng province this week, near the Lao border, and continue through early December.

All concerns will be recorded before Cambodia makes an official statement on the dam, said Te Navuth, secretary-general of the committee.

Each country along the Mekong River has six months for consultation and data collection to hand over to the Mekong River Commission, a cooperative body of countries along the river.

Tek Vannara, head of the NGO Forum, which monitors the Mekong River issue closely, said he does not have high hopes Laos will stop construction of the dam, which could disrupt fisheries and jeopardize the livelihoods of millions of people downriver.

He pointed to the construction of the Xayaburi Dam in Laos, against the objections of Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, as an example. “We, the NGOs, are afraid the Don Sahong will follow the same way.”