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Locals differ on impacts from Cambodia dam project

Cambodia’s Lower Sesan 2 (LS2) hydropower project brings about concerns to the locals, either those refusing to move or those accepting the resettlement deals. According to the project’s environmental impact assessment report, 4,785 people from seven villages must relocate from four communes in the reservoir area. It is estimated that 78,000 people upstream would lose access to migratory fish, and 22,000 people immediately downstream would be negatively affected by changes in river hydrology, water quality and fish numbers.

By Khine Kyaw

Stung Treng, Cambodia, September 21, 2015

Myanmar Eleven via The Nation

According to the project’s environmental impact assessment report, 4,785 people from seven villages must relocate from four communes in the reservoir area. It is estimated that 78,000 people upstream would lose access to migratory fish, and 22,000 people immediately downstream would be negatively affected by changes in river hydrology, water quality and fish numbers.

Most of residents from downstream villages continue to refuse the compensation package for several reasons.

Phavy,58, of Srae Kor village, insisted that her family would not move to another place, no matter what happens.

“We are not intentionally against the government and do not care about the project. We have been living here for long. Our ancestors lived and died here for many generations. The authorities want us to move but no violence yet. We have decided to live here until we die,” she told reporters who joined the Mekong Matters energy workshop and field trip.

Sarakri of Saron Khon village said, “We decided not to move. Money does not matter. As my husband does not want to move, I also agreed to stay here.”

Her neighbour, Natsouta, said she was tricked by local officers to give fingerprints in April. Upon knowing that, she took the papers back.

It is estimated that 30 per cent of the people from over 1,000 households still object the project which began the construction in 2012, for completion in 2017.

Some residents of downstream villages have accepted the compensation and agreed to move to the resettlement area, in return for compensation and other promises.

Tan Kui, 37, a farmer living in Sror Nuk village, said that the whole village has agreed to accept the compensation package and nearly 200 people in 95 households will move.

“I already received half of the compensated money. The company said they would pay US$ 3,000 as compensation. Both the government and the company promised us to support 20 kilograms of rice for each person, 20 litres of diesel for each household, and some money for 12 consecutive months,” he said.

From the same village, Penh Na said the authorities promised a school, health care centre, police station, and small shops in the resettlement area. However, he is concerned about job opportunities.

Those in the upstream villages, not targeted to move, also shared their concerns.

Siek Ming, the head of San Khuoy village, said that a total of 597 people from 156 households in the village are concerned about the dam collapse though it is very far from the dam.

“We do not know much about the dam. So far, we have not noticed big changes yet. But we witnessed that the water quality obviously changed in these days,” he said.

International Rivers, a non-government organisation, is working with partners in Cambodia calling upon the government of Cambodia to cancel this project. It said that with such significant environmental, social and economic costs, the Lower Sesan 2 Dam is clearly the wrong solution for the region’s energy and water needs.

 

This story was produced in collaboration with The Mekong Eye and Mekong Matters Journalism Network

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