11 February 2014

The BBC Visited Xayabury Dam: will be included in a 4 part documentary about change along the Mekong

Vientiane Times, 11 Feb 2014 A TV production team working for the British broadcaster BBC has visited the Xayaboury hydropower project construction site as part of a documentary related to culture, lifestyle and development in Laos. The visit last week by the BCC crew was welcomed by Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines, Mr Viraphonh Viravong. The team, fronted by pre senter Sue Perkins, a well-known TV personality in Britain, visited both the construction site and resettlement villages, were shooting over a two-day period, talking with project management, government officials and local residents. Mr Viraphonh said, “This is good for Laos as it gives us a chance to present our viewpoint to foreign media. We have done our best to make them understand our thinking. We are open to inquiry and sharing information.What they will present is up to them, it's their right.” “So far, many foreign media crews have visited the site and we are happy to let them explore and see for themselves,” said Mr Viraphonh. The BBC producer/director, Ms Lucy Swingler, said the documentary “Mekong with Sue Perkins” will be a four-part series on culture, lifestyle and development in four countries along the Mekong River, namely China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In Laos, the team filmed in Champassak province, Xayaboury and Luang Prabang. They will continue their work in the Golden Triangle. The documentary will feature hour-long segments for each country. It is expected to be broadcast in June this year on a BBC channel. Ms Perkins said she is very concerned about preserving the natural beauty of Laos but she understands that developing the country's hydropower potential can help provide better education and health care for children. While filming at the Xayabury project site, she said: “Laos is saying all the right things and I hope they can live up to their words. And I hope the fish lift works!” The Xayabury hydropower project will have the world's most advanced fish passage facilities, with a fish lift, a fish ladder and a natural setting for fish in the navigation locks, officials said. This is Ms Perkins's second documentary about Laos, She worked on the 2012 TV show “World's Most Dangerous Roads: Ho Chi Minh Trail.” The US$3.5 billion project to build the 1,285 MW Xayaboury hydropower plant on the mainstream of the Mekong River began at the end of 2012. Commercial operation is expected to begin in 2019. The operations phase covers 29 years of the concession agreement period from year 2019 to 2048, after which the hydropower plant will transfer to Lao government ownership. Most of the power will be exported to Thailand, earning foreign reserves to help reduce poverty in Laos, with the remainder for domestic use.

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