Damnation abounds

Published: Friday 28 February 1997

even as the Laotian government held a public discussion on the merits of a proposed us $1.5-billion dam in end-January, logging trucks roared through the village of Nakai Neua at the project site. The Nakai plateau in central Laos, home to 23 poor ethnic villages spread over an area of 45,360 ha, will be flooded once the Nam Theun 2 (nt2) dam project is finalised. "It's a major tragedy. These people have no rice, nothing," said an international observer.

ngos, however, largely stayed away from the discussion of the controversial project, questioning the government's sincerity on hearing feedback. They doubted whether public opinion would be heeded. The government is required by the World Bank to hold open discussions in return for partial loan guarantees by the Bank.

Calling the discussion a "public exercise", ngos complained that only two-weeks notice was given for the meeting. The nt2 area is home to 14 endangered mammals, 24 bird species, rich fish reserves and evergreen, pine and cypress forests.

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