Locals slam Mekong blasting plan

The government’s aim to clear the Mekong River’s rocky outcrops to ensure the smooth passage of large cargo boats has set off alarm bells for environmental activists and locals who fear the ecology in the area will be put at risk.

The Mekong River, known in China as the Lancang River, runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam over a total distance of 4,880km.

China is pushing to use the river to ship goods from its southern province of Yunnan to Luang Prabang in Laos, a distance of 890km. Under the plan, the cargo will also be carried through Myanmar and Thailand along the river.

The Thai cabinet approved the Development Plan for International Navigation on the Lancang-Mekong River 2015–2025 on Dec 27 as a framework to ensure safety in water transport along the river.It also gave the nod to making initial navigation improvements on the river, including surveys and other plans to move the project forward.

The Marine Department has been assigned as a key agency to follow up on the plan.The plan is split into two phases. The first phase, which runs from 2015 to 2020, involves a survey, a design and assessment of the environmental and social impacts of the project. These have to be approved by the four countries involved.

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