via AP News, 31 January 2024: The construction of a dam near Luang Prabang has raised concerns about its potential impact on the city’s heritage and natural environment. The project could alter the Mekong River’s flow and ecosystem, potentially affecting Luang Prabang’s historic and cultural landscape.
But a multibillion-dollar dam project underway 25 kilometers (15 miles) upstream has prompted concerns that it could result in the city losing its UNESCO status, and broader questions about what the government’s ambitious plans to build multiple dams across the Mekong will do to the river, the lifeblood of Southeast Asia.
“When the Luang Prabang Dam is complete, and it’s already well under construction, the river is going to trickle into a dead body of water,” said Brian Eyler, director of the Washington-based Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia Program and its Energy, Water and Sustainability Program.
“The people going to Luang Prabang as tourists to see the mighty Mekong and see how the Lao people interact with the river, all those interactions are going to be gone — all the fishing, meaningful local boating and commerce done by locals on relatively small boats will end.”