Dam resettlement strategies need review | Bangkok Post: opinion

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Dam resettlement strategies need review

At a recent forum in Hanoi, hydrologists, academics and NGOs agreed that projects often sink or swim depending on how they deal with those displaced by dams and urged governments to take a bigger role in implementing effective policies and compensation from the start

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Hydropower is often said to be less potentially harmful than other energy sources such as coal and nuclear, but when the issue of resettlement is thrown into the equation the true costs of hydropower mount rapidly. This is something dam developers themselves admitted at a recent Mekong Forum held in Hanoi in Vietnam. 

"Successful resettlement as a result of hydropower projects is probably the most difficult task we face, and the key to determining the success of a project. If we do a good job on this, we are half-way home on a project," said Huang Guanming, vice-president of Hydro Lancang, while presenting case studies of dams constructed by his company on the upper Mekong [Lancang] River in China, including the Jing Hong dam.

Mr Guanming's remarks were echoed by Prof Guoqing Shi, a consultant for the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB), and director of China's National Research Centre for Resettlement.

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