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Hydropower Developer Terminates IRN Agreement
to Theun-Hinboun Power Company Decision
cooperation agreement between US-based river protection organization
International Rivers Network and Lao dam developer Theun-Hinboun Power
Company (THPC) was abruptly ended on March 23, 2004 by THPC. IRN and
THPC signed an agreement last year to develop a review of the company’s
work in mitigating impacts of the Theun-Hinboun Hydropower Project in Laos.
THPC notified IRN of its decision to end cooperation three weeks after
the month-long review began, based on concerns that the agreement did not
follow standard corporate practices.
“We are extremely disappointed in THPC’s unilateral decision to end
cooperation on the review,” says Susanne Wong, IRN’s Southeast
Asia Campaigner. “THPC’s decision raises questions about the
company’s commitment to open its mitigation and compensation program
to independent monitoring and scrutiny. In a closed society such as Laos,
without such monitoring there is no way of determining whether communities
are being adequately compensated for their losses.”
In May 2003, IRN and THPC signed a cooperation agreement to jointly develop
a 3rd party review to examine the effectiveness of the company’s mitigation
and compensation program and to issue recommendations for improvement.
They developed terms of reference for the review, selected members of the
review team and were to jointly provide comments on the team’s draft
report this month. THPC is continuing to oversee the review. A final report
is expected to be completed in late April or May and will be made publicly
Theun-Hinboun Power Company is a joint venture between the Government
of Laos and two private companies: Norwegian state-owned company Statkraft
and GMS Power of Thailand. The Theun-Hinboun Hydropower Project was funded
by the Asian Development Bank and completed in 1998. About 25,000 people
have experienced reduced fish catches, flooding of vegetable gardens,
of freshwater drinking sources and transportation difficulties since
the project began operation.