Dam-Affected Villagers Say Relocation Inadequate

With the construction of two irrigation reservoirs in Pursat province’s Phnom Kravanh district nearing completion, locals set to be evicted from the area complained Tuesday of the inadequacy of the relocation site.

Pich Y Luon, chief of Rokat commune, where the dams are being built to preserve water for dry season crops in the provinces of Pursat and Battambang, said that preparations to relocate 40 families before the land is flooded in August were ramping up.

“We are speeding up the first step of land clearing for the resettlement site for those who will lose their residences,” Mr. Y Luon said, adding that the Ministry of Water Resources project was being carried out by a Chinese company whose name he could not recall.

But despite the relocation plans, the Veal Vong villagers who will be displaced by the Stung Pursat 3 and Stung Pursat 5 dams, which broke ground in 2011, say they are not satisfied with the offers of compensation.

Forty families whose homes are inside the 800-hectare reservoir-to-be will receive monetary compensation and new housing at a resettlement site just five km away, while a further 145 whose farmland will be submerged in August have been promised only cash.

Mam Samin, a 40-year-old who will lose six hectares of farmland, said he thumbprinted an agreement Monday to accept $4,000 in compensation for losing his home and farm before visiting the site.

“I went to the resettlement site today and saw that the land is not fertile for farming, it is very sandy,” he said, adding that the villagers would not protest because they had been told by local authorities that it would lead to their compensation being taken away.

Chin Vith, a 32-year-old farmer who has already moved to the 675-hectare resettlement site, said that there was no school, and no water for more than a kilometer around the site.

Both men said they had yet to receive any monetary compensation.

Mr. Y Luon, the commune chief, said that families would receive compensation—between $700 and $5,000—once paperwork was completed with the Ministry of Finance.

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