Villages Approve Next Steps for Nam Ngiep 1

The Nam Ngiep 1 hydropower project in Laos will begin preliminary works soon following consultation with local people
VIENTIANE, Laos - Dec. 29, 2013 - PRLog -- Villagers from five communities in Bolikhan District met on December 17 and 18 with government officials and representatives of the Nam Ngiep 1 Power Company to discuss the next steps in development of the Nam Ngiep 1 hydropower project.

Nam Ngiep 1 is a 290-megawatt project planned in an area that crosses Bolikhamxay, Vientiane and Xieng Khouang provinces. Construction is due to begin in early 2014 with production of electricity scheduled to start at the beginning of 2019.

The first part of construction involves building an access road from Ban Nonsomboun to the main dam site near the villages of Hat Gneun and Hatsaykham. On December 18 people from these latter two villages and nearby Ban Thaheua agreed to compensation details for land affected by the road construction. Village residents said they had been well informed of this process and, after several rounds of negotiation, were happy with compensation for land affected by the road. They reminded the company that good care must be taken of the environment around the building works and that Nam Ngiep 1 was responsible for safety in the construction area.

Project officials described the process and machinery used in the road construction and assured villagers that environmental and safety considerations were priorities for the company. They also outlined a grievance process mechanism set up with the help of Bolikhamxay and village authorities to provide affected people with a procedure for complaint and appeal should they feel that mistakes were made in compensation.

A similar meeting was held the day before in Ban Nonsomboun for residents of that village and neighbouring Ban Sisavath. Participants sought reassurance from the company that electricity and water connections would be managed properly by the road contractors, and that cash transfers to new bank accounts created especially for each village household would be carefully monitored.

After the meeting Mr Phoun Thammavong, aged 60, of Nonsomboun said that he was happy the project was providing a road and that the compensation offered was fair. “The plan they showed us is clear and everything was explained well” he said. A 44-year old woman from the same village, Mrs Thongdam, agreed and added that she would be happy even if no compensation was given as “the road and hydropower project are very important the development of the village and for the country”.

However, Mrs Thongdam wanted to know how the road would affect villagers’ land titles and how corrections to titles would be made. “This still needs to be clarified”, she said, adding that the company and government officials had assured her they were looking into the matter and would respond in the near future.

Aiden Glendinning
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Tags:Hydropower, Laos, Consultation
Location:Vientiane - Vientiane Prefecture - Laos
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