Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers affected by dam meet with government officials

Villagers affected by dam meet with government officials

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A view of the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam construction site in Stung Treng province in 2016. The dam is scheduled to start generating power by the end of this year. Photo supplied

Villagers affected by dam meet with government officials

Villagers from Stung Treng whose homes stand to be flooded by the Lower Sesan II dam met with representatives of the Ministry of Mines and Energy at an NGO Forum-sponsored meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday, in hopes of establishing a dialogue towards a long-awaited compromise.

One observer, however, said the meeting was fruitless, and faulted the government for failing to offer any new alternatives to the holdouts.

Nong Sareth, the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s deputy director of hydro-electricity, said that four villages, or 846 households, in Sesan district will be flooded as a result of the dam project. Of these households, Sareth said, 126 – or 13 percent – have not accepted compensation.

According to Sareth, compensation for each household includes one 80-square-metre house with 1,000 square metres of land, plus 5 hectares of farm land and a stipend of 20 kilograms of rice per month for one year.

Sareth said the dam will operate its first turbine in November 2017. Seven other turbines will go into operation in 2018, ultimately generating 400 megawatts of power.

But villagers remain reluctant to go. Nath Sota, an ethnic Lao villager from Sesan district’s Sre Kor village, said she wants the government to allow her and other villagers to stay on their ancestral land.

Moreover, she said her current location enables her to make a living growing crops and fishing. “I feel sorrow for my farmland, my ancestors’ tombs . . . [Even] if we would be flooded, we still want to live here,” said Sota.

Srey Libi, a villager who already accepted compensation and moved to a location 10 kilometres from the hydro dam, said that villagers who relocated found themselves lacking roads and clean water.

He added that villagers who moved no longer have work and requested that the government continue providing them with rice for five years.

Sareth responded that he would report the villagers’ concerns to his ministry and that he intends to maintain dialogue with those who did not accept compensation. He was steadfast, however, that they could not go on living in their villages, because flood waters could rise as high as 3 or 4 metres.

Bun Leap, a coordinator of 3s Rivers Protection Network (3SPN) who attended the meeting, said that yesterday’s discussion was not fruitful as the ministry did not offer the villagers any new solutions, such as allowing them to stay in four “safe” locations they have identified closer to their original homes.

“We will keep advocating the ministry to consider whether villagers can be allowed to move to that place once the flood comes.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of