Cambodian officials lack sufficient evidence that Vietnam’s Yali Falls Dam is harming the Se San River further downstream in Cambodia, a key official said Thursday.
Sin Niny, vice chair of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee, said he had not read two surveys of Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces that traced drownings, fisheries damage, agriculture damage and illnesses to changes in water flows and water quality caused by the dam.
The studies, prepared by NGOs in cooperation with provincial fisheries offices, are not “official documents,” he said.
“If there is evidence Yali caused damage to the people of Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng, we will request to Vietnam officially” to take action, he said.
His comments came a day after a conference in which provincial governors, water officials and villagers testified to the damage they believe was caused by the dam. A study sponsored by the Oxfam Mekong Initiative released at the conference accused Vietnam of violating a 1995 environmental agreement between countries along the Mekong River.
Sin Niny noted that Vietnam is abiding by a separate agreement to notify Cambodia of any large water releases from Yali Falls. The releases have been blamed for massive water surges that sweep away people, houses, boats and fishing equipment.
The agreement calls for about 15 days advance notice of water releases. The Oxfam study said notifications usually happen just before or even just after water is released, which is not enough time to warn villagers, it said.