Villagers Awaiting Xayaburi Relocation Hit by Floods

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Houses near the Xayaburi dam construction site in a photo taken on April 12, 2011.
Houses near the Xayaburi dam construction site in a photo taken on April 12, 2011.
Bangkok Post/Piyaporn Wongruang

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET on 2013-08-16

Dozens of families awaiting relocation to make way for the Xayaburi megadam under construction on the Mekong River in northern Laos have been hit by flooding following days of nonstop rain, according to a local official.

Torrential rains that drenched Xayaburi province and neighboring Luang Prabang province’s Nan district amid a tropical storm starting last week sparked flash floods and landslides along the rivers in the area, including at the dam site and nearby villages.

The flooding has hit families in Ban Thadeua and Ban Talane, two of several villages where residents are scheduled to be relocated to Ban To Gnay in 2015 to make way for the dam.

"Altogether about 30 families have been impacted and had their houses and farmland flooded," in Ban Thadeua and Ban Talane, a local official speaking on condition of anonymity told RFA's Lao Service.

One resident relocated from nearby Ban Houay Souy said Tuesday that Ban To Gnay was not affected, but the dam site and 70 families living along the river were, in flooding that was likely to have damaged their homes and farmland just as heavy rains had last year.

Among thousands being relocated

Some 600 to 700 people live in Ban Thadeua and Ban Talane combined, and they are among about 2,000 people who have been or will soon be relocated to make way for the dam, which is still in the early stages of construction.

Once completed in 2018, the dam will generate electricity mostly for export to Thailand, forming a key part of landlocked Laos’s plans to become the “battery of Southeast Asia” by selling electricity to its neighbors.

But environmental groups have said Laos is building the dam without enough study of likely socioeconomic impacts and have raised concerns about the management of the resettlement process.

Two months ago, hundreds of residents recently relocated to Houay Hip village for the project from Pak Nern were left without electricity after a landslide following heavy rains knocked out utility poles.

According to the Vientiane Times, in addition to the 2,000 people being relocated for the Xayaburi dam, another 1,000 residents in eight villages are being required to move to higher ground within their communities.

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Viengsay Luangkhot. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that half of the villagers in Houay Souy were awaiting relocation and had been affected by flooding there. All of Houay Souy's former residents have been relocated to Ban To Gnay.





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