Villagers in Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district have complained to local authorities after seeing Chinese workers drilling in their village for a dam project feasibility study on the Srepok river, officials said yesterday.
Mao Saroeun, chief of Chey Uddom commune, said yesterday that dozens of villagers approached him last week, telling him they were worried about a possible relocation of their homes because of future dam construction in the district. Mr Saroeun said he talked to a Chinese-language interpreter last week who told him it would take three months to study the soil samples.
“Now, there are about 20 machines that are drilling the soil,” he said. “The villagers are worried because they do not know how their villages will be affected by the construction.”
Meach Mean, coordinator for the NGO 3S Rivers Protection Network, said yesterday that his organization would investigate the drilling along the Srepok. Mr Mean said the provincial authorities should have provided the villagers with information regarding the feasibility study of the hydro dam construction.
“The villagers are worried because they do not know what will happen to their villages,” Mr Mean said.
Ratanakkiri governor Pav Ham Phan appealed to the villagers not to be worried because the project was only in the study phase.
“It is in the study process. Why should the villagers be worried?” Mr Ham Phan said. “The study will determine whether or not their villagers will be affected.”
Mr Ham Phan said the villagers should report their grievances to commune authorities and send it to the provincial officials. When asked, Mr Ham Phan could not recall the name of the Chinese company involved in the project.
Hem Vanthan, director of the provincial department of industry, mines and energy, said a Chinese company had been conducting a feasibility study on the Srepok but that he too could not recall the company’s name.
Mr Vanthan said companies from China, South Korea and Vietnam had been studying dam construction in the province.