Chinese dams release Mekong waters on Laos; pose threats to aquatic life

·2-min read
Representative image
Representative image

Vientiane [Laos], April 8 (ANI): Chinese dams on the Mekong River have begun unleashing water during the river's normal dry season, posing threats to aquatic life in Laos, along with thousands of people living alongside the river in Southeast Asian country, according to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA).

The report said fluctuating water levels in Southeast Asia's most important waterway causes trouble for wildlife, farmers and fishermen in Laos.

"The Mekong River water level is up 12 centimetres [4.7 inches] from yesterday," an official of the Natural Resources and Environment Department of Laos' northwestern Bokeo province told RFA on April 2.

Fishermen from northwestern Xayaburi province of Laos are complaining that a sudden change in water level was bad for fish stocks. "The Mekong River has risen about 10 centimetres [four inches]. I'm concerned that the rising water will affect aquatic vegetation and fish," the fisherman said, as quoted by RFA.

Experts have emphasised that the river's water level is not supposed to rise during the dry season.

"The rising water could hurt aquatic species like fish and aquatic vegetation. Some of them could even die. Sparrows lay their eggs on the sand beds too, and when the water level rises these can become flooded," said Montree Chanthawong, a Thailand-based Mekong River expert.

Raising concerns over the dipping water-levels of the Mekong River and upstream dams in China, Senior US Diplomat Atul Keshap last month had pointed out that upstream dams in China that exacerbate droughts are hurting the communities and ecosystems that have relied for countless generations on the Mekong River's natural flood pulse.

"We remain concerned just as we were in October during the conference--that record droughts and the upstream dams in China that exacerbate them are hurting the communities and ecosystems that have relied for countless generations on the Mekong River's natural flood pulse," he had said as reported by the Frontier Post.

This news comes as China has drawn criticism from its downstream neighbours for its building several mega-dams on the Mekong River, with the lower Mekong basin experiencing severe drought over the past year.

Beijing agreed to share data with the Mekong River Commission in October last year, as some 60 million people in MRC members countries use the river for agriculture and fishing. (ANI)

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