Export Credit

Protesters urge World Bank to stop Nam Theun 2 project

Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
March 15, 2005

By supporting Nam Theun 2, the World Bank might repeat the same mistake
it made at Pak Mool, which generated neither benefits to the local
people nor sufficient electricity to Thailand’s power system, say
Conservationists and villagers from Northeastern provinces noisily
protested yesterday outside the World Bank’s Bangkok office, demanding
it withdraw support for the controversial Nam Theun II project in Laos.

“We don’t want the bank to make another mistake in neighbouring Laos as
it did with us at Pak Mool dam,” said Somkiat Phonpai, a protest leader
from Ubon Ratchathai, who was affected by the World Bank sponsored Pak
Mool dam.

The bank’s board of directors will make its final decision about
whether to grant a political risk guarantee for the 1,070-megawatt Nam
Theun II project after studying all aspects of the project by late this
month or early next month.

Potential financiers and investors in the dam have requested a
guarantee from the bank against any change of contract by the Communist

Some 100 protesters, mostly affected by the Pak Mool dam, rallied in
front of the bank’s office carrying posters calling for an end to the
Nam Theun II project.

They burned an effigy of the bank’s president, James Wolfen-sohn, in
protest, after delivering a letter urging him not to support the dam’s

By supporting Nam Theun II, the bank might repeat the same mistake as
it made at Pak Mool, which generated neither benefits to the local
people nor sufficient electricity to Thailand’s power system, they said.

The Lao government expects to earn hard currency from the project,
which will export 995mW to Thailand over the next 25 years. It said the
income could help contribute to its poverty reduction programme.

But Aviva Imhof, from the International River Network, said local
residents, including 6,500 who would be displaced by the project and
some 100,000 in the Xe Bang Fai basin, where water from the dam will be
diverted, would not benefit from the project.

With a huge inundation area of 450 square kilometres, Lao people will be forced to cede farmland to the dam.

In compensation, the project will allocate 4 rai of land for each
family affected, but much of the land is considered unfertile and in
heavy need of fertiliser, which local villagers cannot afford, she said.

The World Bank’s senior coordinator for the environment, Patchamuthu
Illangovan, who received the demonstrators’ letter, said the project
had been studied extensively for its potential environment and social

People losing income – notably some 70,000, rather than the 100,000 who
claim they will be affected – will receive compensation, he said.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s