Laos govt​ to assess harmful effects of development on national heritage


- Photo: Vientiane Times File

VIENTIANE: The government has compiled a set of measures to assess the negative impacts of development projects and socio-economic activities on national heritage.

Speaking at the National Assembly last week, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Suanesavanh​ Vignaket​ (pic), said measures were now in place to assess the impact of the Law on National Heritage, which was revised in 2021, while the ministry has also written a manual on the implementation of heritage impact assessments.​

The minister was responding to questions from the National Assembly Standing Committee about the government’s management of development projects and socio-economic activities that may have a direct or indirect negative impact on national heritage.

The government will closely monitor these projects and activities as well as the impact of economic development on tourist sites and popular tourist destinations, with a focus on dams, mining operations, and the clearance of land.

These efforts will be aimed at curbing unregulated development, which can be an obstacle to the growth of tourism.

Tourism has been affected, for example, by the construction of the Namphak dam in Pakxong district, Champassak province, which is an area of great natural beauty.

The dam has slowed the natural flow of the river, meaning that 17 waterfalls in the area now have significantly less water in the dry season.

Another example is a mining operation in Sanxay district, Attapeu​ province, where mining is taking place around Nong Fa lake, detracting from the area’s natural beauty and making it unattractive to tourists.

In Khong district, Champassak province, the hugely popular Khone Phapheng falls have been affected by the construction of the upstream Done Xehong hydropower plant, where the dam has impeded water flow so that the cascade is not nearly as impressive as it used to be and almost dries up from February to June every year. - Vientiane Times/ANN

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