Farmers in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam have called for a halt to the construction of hydroelectricity projects along the upstream of the Mekong River citing negative impact to the environment and on their livelihoods.
The request was submitted during a people’s forum held on November 11 in the Mekong Delta Province of An Giang, with the participation of rural representatives from the three Southeast Asian nations.
The event was co-organized by the Center of People and Nature and the River Networks of Vietnam.
Currently, the upstream section of the Mekong River in China has six hydroelectricity plants. Eleven other plants are planned in Laos and Cambodia.
Long Sochet, chairman of the Network of Aquaculture of Cambodia, said at the meeting that he had witnessed a reduction in the supply of water and natural fish in the Mekong River since the dikes were built upstream.
Low water level has badly affected daily life, farming productivity, and erosion in rivers, he added.
“We have witnessed clearly those changes on Tonle Sap Lake.
“Water level and water quality have fallen while water pollution has risen,” said Sochet, adding that 60 percent of food for his nation comes from the Mekong River source. Thai man Chirasak Inthayot shared that the amount of natural fish and water level have decreased since China operated its major dikes on the upstream of the Mekong River.
“The Mekong River has brought in food and is a means of support of locals.
“Thai people want to know how a dike affects people’s normal lives when it is built,” he said.
Truong Van Khoi, a Vietnamese farmer in the Mekong Delta Province of An Giang, said he and his fellow farmers can see the changes to the environment since those hydroelectricity plants were built in China.
“The amount of natural fish has decreased by 80 percent.
“Many species of fish native to the Mekong River have disappeared.
“Farmers haven’t been able to afford their family from normal farming activities as they had done before.”
Over 150 ideas were submitted to the forum to call for a halt to the construction of hydroelectricity projects on the upstream of the Mekong River.
Channarong Vongla, representative of the Thai community, said he collected nearly 6,500 signatures of people and 77 agencies from Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam in September to protest the construction of dikes on the Mekong’s upstream.
The signatures will be sent to the governments of all the nations the Mekong River runs through.