Call for Halt to Blasting of the Mekong Rapids Project until Adequate EIA Completed
To: The Ambassador of the People's Republic of China, Bangkok
We, the organizations representing grassroots communities depending on the Mekong River and Student Organization of Thailand, are writing to express our concern over the Mekong Navigation Channel Improvement Project. It is a large-scale project but there has not been any people participation, transparence, and good governance.
Firstly, local people whose lives rely on the Mekong were not informed about the project and participation in decision making process. These violate the basic human rights.
Secondly, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is substantively inadequate that it is not based on assessments of the full range of potential impacts i.e. impacts on fisheries, society, tradition, and riverine ecosystems. It was conducted by government officials of the four riparian countries without people participation.
From our experience, blasting 3 rapids on Lao-Burmese borders in last dry season created many severe impacts to the people living along the rivers. For example, during the rainy season, because of the turbulent current in the Mekong, there had been riverbanks erosion in Thailand and Lao PDR. 113 households on the Lao riverbank were destroyed by the erosion. As well, big waves from the ships destroyed the locals' fishing boats.
Thirdly, there has not been option assessment to prevent or minimize adverse impacts. There are many options to be examined in terms of environmental and social impacts.
Fourthly, blasting the rapids is destroying the locals' resource and security, violating sustainable development.
We are informed that the project is being continued on December 15,2002, financially supported by the Chinese government. Hence, we are demanding for the followings;
1 Halt the project immediately.
2 Participatory Environmental Impact Assessment with consultation with relevant stakeholders, such as local residents and civil society in the Mekong region, must take place after sufficient information has been disclosed.
3 Multiple alternative proposals must be examine in terms of environmental and social considerations, as well as sustainable development.
We are affirming our rights and livelihoods that depends on the Mekong.
Network of Villagers Organization in the Upper Mekong, Northern Thailand
Chiang Kong Conservation Group
Assembly of the Poor
Student Organization of Thailand