I have posted previously on The Interpreter about the Don Sahong dam, the very controversial project that the Lao government seems determined to build on the Mekong in southern Laos just before it flows into Cambodia. The Lao parliament has approved the project, and various officials have repeatedly confirmed the government's intention to build the dam despite strong opposition from Cambodia and Vietnam. In my view, the first we will hear of the Lao government's plans will be when construction has begun, possibly during the dry season which has just started.

But while the attention of activists has focused on Don Sahong, construction on the Xayaburi dam — located on the Mekong between Luang Prabang and Vientiane — is well under way. This is the dam which the Lao government began building in a fashion that blindsided the Mekong River Commission and its fellow MRC members, particularly Cambodia and Vietnam. Preliminary work started in 2010 and construction in earnest in 2012.

The youtube clip below shows developments at Xayaburi as of June this year. More than words can do, it demonstrates what a massive dam this will be when completed, and how worrying it will be in terms of the blockage of fish that is likely to occur despite the construction of fish passes.