NTPC, owner and operator of the project, on November 5, 2010 submitted to the government and its advisors a certificate listing the completion or partial completion of almost 140 requirements that the company is bound to fulfil. In December, the government gave its non-objection to the issue of this certificate.
The project requirements, mainly concerning environmental and social commitments but also design and performance standards, are detailed in a concession agreement signed in 2002. Around 50 of the requirements are accepted as complete, while those partially completed are acknowledged to be under implementation and ongoing. Examples include income improvements for resettled villagers, which are being achieved through an eight-year livelihoods support programme.
The project Dam Safety Review Panel (DSRP), comprised of international hydropower experts, has been monitoring the construction and operation of the industrial side of the project for the past five years, and on November 8 indicated that Nam Theun 2 meets the requirements expected under international standards and under the concession agreement.
The International Environmental and Social Panel of Experts, or POE, has also signed its non-objection to the certificate, following detailed inspection of the project’s wide-ranging development and environmental protection programmes. The POE members, who have been monitoring the Nam Theun 2 Project for over 15 years, have stated that while the long-term social and environmental commitments of NTPC are still a work in progress, the project is largely on track.
The Lao government’s non-objection, given following consultation with the POE and DSRP, was issued by the Ministry of Energy and Mines. The minister, Mr Soulivong Daravong, said that the scope of Nam Theun 2 was unprecedented, and that NTPC and its partners had done a remarkable job in bringing such a broad range of social improvements and environmental safeguards to an advanced stage in a relatively short time.
According to Jean-Pierre Katz, the NTPC Chief Executive Officer, the job cannot be regarded as complete. “We must emphasise our continued responsibility to the people living around the project area and to the Lao government,”
He explained that while people resettled by the project are currently enjoying greatly increased incomes, NTPC will continue to work with village, district, provincial and national partners to ensure that this improvement is sustainable. The project must also prepare for the time when local people and authorities will continue the social and environmental work, enabling residents of the Nam Theun 2 areas to benefit fully from the project.
“NTPC has provided reassurance to the government and the POE that we remain fully committed to the environmental and social goals of this multi-purpose investment”, said Mr Katz. “We need to complete work that is only partially finished in certain areas, and must retain our focus and our financial and human resource commitments until the project targets, as defined by the concession agreement, are reached”.
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The Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) is the developer and operator of the Nam Theun 2 Multi-Purpose Project in the Lao PDR. The Project is a public-private partnership designed to generate electricity for export to Thailand and domestic use in Laos. Revenues accruing to the Lao government during NTPC's concession period, estimated at over US$2 billion, are used to fund poverty alleviation in the country. Nam Theun 2 is structured as an industrial and a development Project, placing great emphasis on protection of the environment and sustainable social programmes to improve the livelihoods of people in the Project area. After 25 years of operation from 2010, the Project will be transferred to the Lao State. See www.namtheun2.com.