Lao-Vietnam Power Interconnection Project

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is currently considering funding the proposed Lao P.D.R.-Viet Nam Power Interconnection (Hatxan-Pleiku). This project would connect a series of 8 dams along the Sekong and its tributary, the Sekaman River, to a high voltage transmission line to export power to Vietnam.

The project area encompasses the Don Ampham National Protected Area and the homelands of indigenous ethnic minority communities who have depended for generations on gathering wild foods and fishing in the rivers. Many of the fish species that flourish in this area are endemic highland species only breeding and migrating within these watersheds, with some types thought to be new to scientific typologies. The dams would block fish migratory routes, and changes in hydrology could further decimate fish populations. Dam-induced erosion and flooding could cause losses of land used by local families for cultivating rice. Yet, villages in the area have not been informed about the dams and how they might be expected to live in the future.

The dams currently proposed to be part of this project are being developed by the Viet Nam-Lao Power Company and the Song Da Group of Viet Nam, and include: Sekaman 1 (322 MW), Sekaman 2 and 2A (164MW), Sekaman 4 and 4A (196 MW), Dak E Meule (112 MW), and Sekong 3A and 3B (205 MW).  Of these dams, construction of only one, the Sekaman 1, has officially begun. Yet, to date, the eight dams proposed to connect to the transmission lines have no environmental impact assessments, social impact assessments or resettlement action plans available to affected communities or the general public. In some cases, the existence and completion of these plans is in question. Furthermore, no transboundary impact assessments appear to have been done to document the potential impacts on communities living downstream in Cambodia.

The Lao P.D.R.-Viet Nam Power Interconnection is currently being considered as an integral part of the Greater Mekong Subregion Regional Power Master Plan, with ADB subsidies for the transmission lines making the development of the dams profitable for private investors. As the dams are an integral part of the transmission line project, International Rivers believes that the ADB should apply their Safeguard Requirements on Indigenous People, the Environment and Involuntary Resettlement equally to the dams and transmission lines.  

International Rivers is monitoring the development of these dams and calling on the ADB to ensure that financing is conditional on whether the dams and transmission lines comply with all of the institution’s Safeguard Policy Requirements and Lao law.