Houay Ho is a 150 MW trans-basin diversion scheme. The project diverts water from the Houay Ho stream on the eastern edge of Champassak province of southern Lao PDR and is released into the Xe Kong River.
The complaint alleges that Tractebel failed to: 1) complete the environmental impact assessment (EIA) until two years after the project was started; 2) adequately assess the project’s impacts on endangered species; 3) deal with impacts of logging on indigenous people; and 4) avert negative health, social and economic impacts associated with the forced evictions.
Around 3,000 people from 12 villages were forcibly evicted to make way for the Houay Ho dam, because they lived in the watershed area.
Construction began in November 1994 and was completed at the end of 1998. All the output is sold to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand. The project is considered the first privately financed joint venture BOT hydropower project in Lao PDR.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Version 2000 Chapter II
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.1
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.2
- Version 2000 Chapter III
- Version 2000 Chapter III Paragraph III.1
- Version 2000 Chapter V
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.1 Subparagraph V.1.C
In June 2004, an initial meeting with between Proyecto Gato and the Belgian NCP took place. In September 2004, Proyecto Gato met with the Laotian Minister of Industry. The minister recognized the problems, requested a copy of the complaint and said extra measures should be taken. The NCP met with the parties in October 2005 and again in February 2005. Tractebel refused to allow the complainants’ access to the documents it had submitted to the NCP, including the environmental impact assessment and a copy of its presentation to the NCP. In September 2005, the NCP issued a statement that no breaches of the Guidelines could be attributed to Tractebel.
Proyecto Gato and several NGOs sent a letter to the OECD requesting clarification on the interpretation of the Guidelines. The groups argued that the NCP had failed to treat the complaint seriously and in accordance with OECD rules. The OECD sent a copy of the letter to all NCPs, but maintains that “Under the Procedural Guidance for the Guidelines, the Investment Committee is not mandated to act as an appellate body on individual NCPs’ decisions, nor is it asked to accept requests for clarification and submissions on an NCP’s handling of specific instances from parties other than advisory bodies (see the text in parts II.3.c and b in the Procedural Guidance to the 2000 Council Decision). However, in addressing generic issues before the committee that may have been revealed by individual specific instances, the authority in II.4 of the procedural guidance provides that the Committee may seek expert advice in relation to its work on the Guidelines and the Committee has sought such advice in the past.”
Proyecto Gato has filed a complaint against the Belgian NCP with the Federal Ombudsman. Proyecto Gato claims the NCP failed to communicate its interpretation of the Guidelines and the closure of the specific instance. The Ombudsman accepted the complaint.