Monday March 6, 2023

South China Morning Post

Waves of tourists are expected to flood back this year to Laos’ ancient city of Luang Prabang as pandemic travel restrictions end, but the cheer of economic recovery has been clouded by plans for a major hydropower dam just 25km upstream from the Unesco World Heritage site.

Two years after the Laotian government approved the project, it is set to launch the 1,460-megawatt Luang Prabang dam with Thai developers in June, without first undertaking a rigorous seismological study.

Critics say the Thai investors and developers could not have picked a worse location, as the dam disrupts the serenity of the riverside and is close to an active fault line in an earthquake-prone region of northern Laos, just 8.6km away from the dam-site.

Punya Churasiri, a leading Thai seismologist and former professor at Chulalungkorn University in Bangkok who has visited the active fault line, warned: “This dam is too dangerous to go ahead without a full investigation.”

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