Mongolian NGOs address new Ministry of Environment to protect Selenga River from damming

Mongolian NGOs address new Ministry of Environment to protect Selenga River from damming

To: The Ministry of Environment

and Green Development of Mongolia


October 12, 2012


A so-called “Shuren” hydro station project with a 300 megawatt capacity is being prepared by the World Bank’s Mining Infrastructure Support (MINIS) project to follow the notorious “Durgun”, “Taishir” hydro power stations and “Orkhon-Gobi”, “Kherlen-Gobi” water transfer/multi purpose hydro projects. The civil society organizations and citizens, who value and respect the tradition of protecting and worshiping water as the cherishible wealth are protesting against this project.

The reason for this protest: Selenge River is one of important water sources that has supported generations of Mongolians for centuries. It is not only the largest river and an important fresh water resource of this country but is the only tributary of Lake Baikal, which comprises 22% of world’s fresh water resources. Mongolia, which has joined and retified most UN conventions and the three Rio conventions on Biodiversity, Combating Desertification and Climate Change, in addition to its duty to protect the Selenge River basin from loss of ecological balance has the duty to protect such basins of global significance. We hereby remind that it should refrain from pursuing selfish in matters of regional and global impact.

We must not forget the negative impacts of numerous previous small hydro projects built on our rivers (Durgun, Taishir, Uench and Eg) that have caused loss of ecological balance in their regions, flooded big areas of river basin changing river ecosystems to lake system thus affecting change in the riverine life. The look at whether these hydrostations had any positive economic benefits regardless of their negative impact reveals the following. We must not forget that our land has scarce surface water resources, is ecologically fragile due to sharp continental climate conditions. The climate change that imparts serious changes to water resources and it is reported that it is progressing a twice higher rate than world average.

There were times when countries like Canada, New Zealand, Norway rich in forest and water resources have rushed to build hydro projects on transboundary rivers claiming economic and development benefits. The trend that built dams and other hydro projects on 60 percent of the 227 larger rivers globally has changed today. Today we see the World Commission on Dams established to regulate construction of hydro power stations; the world has arrived to a consensus that hydro projects do have negative impact and many countries started dismantling their environmentally destructive and economically inefficient dams and rehabilitating land.

We, unfortunately going in the opposite direction with Shuren hydro station after which the is a queue of a 220 MGW capacity on Eg, 100 MGW on Orkhon, a 60 MGW on Erdeneburen in Hovd, 25 MGW on Chargait in Huvsgul is waiting to be developed.

We define the plan of the Mongolian government building a hydropower station on just about every river with a comparatively strong flow as a destructive policy lacking long-term vision, contradicting global trend in development, failing to learn from lessons learned by world community and a threat to the environment.

Therefore we DEMAND that the Mongolian Government review its policy and plans fraught with the danger of destroying the global fresh water resource, wasting the taxpayer money and adding to the debt to be paid by future generations.

We DEMAND that the Ministry of Environment and Green Development carry out an independent expert evaluation to establish availability of necessary water resources; the impact of hydro projects on the environment and communities as well as their economic feasibility before moving forward
with these projects.

Mongolian Environemntal Citizens’ Council

Coalition of Movements of Environmentalists

“Rivers without Boundaries ” NGO

“Hos Zagalmai ” NGO

“Unudur” daily paper

The Ts. Baldorj Eco-Chamber ” NGO

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