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Laos to start construction of mega dam 'this week'

Published on Nov 5, 2012 6:58 PM

VIENTIANE (AFP) - Laos on Monday said it would start construction of a controversial multi-billion dollar dam this week, after adapting the design to calm environmental concerns from neighbouring nations.

"After two years of preparation the Laos government will have a ground breaking ceremony on Nov 7 and will then start working on the dam itself in the Mekong river this week," deputy energy minister Viraphonh Viravong told AFP.

The US$3.8 billion (S$4.66 billion) hydroelectric project at Xayaburi, led by Thai group CH Karnchang, has sharply divided the four Mekong nations - Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand - who rely on the river system for fish and irrigation.

Building work on the main project has been stalled for about 18 months over concerns over its environmental impact.

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