LAOS

The proposed Nam Thuen II hydroelectric dam could trigger off ecological disaster in the Nakai plateau in central Laos. Largescale logging is going on to clear the 447 sq km area for a huge reservoir for the us $1.2 billion dam. The government sees such dam projects as an easy ticket to prosperity. Developers of the dam claim that the projected revenue from the dam would double the country's foreign exchange earnings and increase the gross domestic product by about 20 per cent. But they have yet to secure financing for the project from World Bank. Building the dam implies largescale logging of pine trees and rendering thousands of people on the reservoir area homeless. Moreover, skeptics feel the brown waters of Mekong river could lead to silting problems and lower electricity output. But some environmentalists see the project as a way to bring resources and management expertise into the area.

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