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Laos dam project gets go ahead

June 2005

The controversial Nam Theun 2 hydroelectric dam in Laos is finally to go ahead with loans of $1billion (£540m) from nine international and seven Thai banks. After ten years of environmental and social objections, the way has been cleared with political risk guarantees from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

The project, with total finance of $1.58billion, represents the biggest foreign investment ever made in Laos. The dam, due to be in commission in late 2009, is expected to bring almost $2billion a year for 25 years into Laos through the sale of electricity to Thailand.

Opponents protest that the dam will force thousands of people from their homes, destroy their livelihoods and threaten wildlife, including fish stocks in the Nam Theun River and endangered Asian elephants on the Nakai Plateau.

NPTC, the operating company, replies that more than $30million of the finance will be used for environmental and social protection and the revenues will be spent on poverty relief.


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