|The two-day meeting in Ha Noi started yesterday, and was the start of Viet Nam's chairmanship of the MRC Council for 2015. — VNA/VNS Photo Trong Viet
HA NOI (VNS) — A review of new hydropower plant projects along the Mekong River, especially the Don Sahong Hydropower Plant, was on the agenda at the first meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Council this year.
The two-day meeting in Ha Noi started yesterday, and was the start of Viet Nam's chairmanship of the MRC Council for 2015.
The 21st meeting of the MRC Council was attended by ministers from Viet Nam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, which are the most economically and environmentally vulnerable to the Mekong River flow in the lower basin.
More than 20 delegations from strategic partnership countries in the upper basin as well as international organisations and observers also attended the meeting.
Laos announced its decision for the MRC to review the Don Sahong Hydropower Plant in June last year after the project received strong opposition from Vietnamese and international experts, who said it would damage the environment and affect the livelihoods of residents who depended on the river for a living in Laos and beyond.
The project could also have negative effects on local fisheries due to changes in fish migration.
Reports on Mekong River basin development and management, especially the specific impacts of hydropower plants along the river, were presented at the meeting along with an update on the Water Resources Management-Based Basin Development Strategy (WRMBDS).
"Rapid economic development and increasing use of water in the region have put a strain on water resources and other relating resources in the lower basin," said Nguyen Minh Quang, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment-cum-Chairman of the MRC Council in 2015.
The joint research and the WRMBDS would be among the top priorities of the MRC in 2015 to realise the HCM City Declaration that was announced at the Second Mekong River Commission Summit in April last year.
The document outlines regional leaders' commitment to further cross-border co-operation to promote the sustainable development of the Mekong basin and to undertake risk mitigation to preserve the river's ecological system.
Deputy PM welcomes delegation heads to MRC Council meeting
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai hosted a reception for ministers and delegation leaders attending the 21st meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Council in Ha Noi on January 15.
The Deputy PM stated that during the second (MRC) Summit in April last year, leaders of the four MRC members of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Viet Nam adopted the Ho Chi Minh City statement, in which they affirmed the importance of the sustainable use and management of water and related resources from the Mekong River Basin and the continued political commitment to implement the 1995 Mekong Agreement.
He spoke highly of the commission's report on the implementation process of the statement, particularly its study on the sustainable management and development of the Mekong River basin, including the impact of hydropower plants along the main stream.
He noted that the nations' increasing population and economic growth are placing greater demands on water and other resources from the Mekong River basin, calling for increased efforts from the commission to mitigate these challenges.
The guests pledged their continuous support for the operation of the MRC.— VNS