Chinese survey boats arrive in Chiang Rai to resume survey of Mekong river

Seven Chinese survey vessels have arrived in Chiang Rai province from southern province of Yunnan reportedly to resume survey of the Mekong river as an integral part of the project to expand river navigation from southern China downstream to Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.

Chief of the Chinese survey team, Mr Lieu Jian, said the team would survey 15 points in the Mekong river from the Golden Triangle in Chiang Saen district downstream to Wiang Kaen district. The entire task would take 55 days.

CCC Second Harbour Consultant of Yunnan was commissioned to undertake the survey, using three big vessels and four smaller boats.

Chief of the Mekong river task force Cholathai Rattanaruang said the Navy and officials from the Marine Department would monitor the operations of the Chinese vessels to ensure that they abide by conditions specified in the agreement.

But environmental groups in Chiang Rai such as the Hak Chiang Khong group are opposed to the Mekong river navigation project for fear that rapids in the river which are the traditional habitat for fish will be blasted to expand the river navigation lane.

The survey will focus on four aspects namely hydrology which covers river channel, current speed and depth of the river; geological aspect which covers rapids, islets and topography; engineering and environmental aspects.