Villagers from Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces submitted a petition to the National Assembly on Thursday requesting a halt to the construction of the massive Lower Sesan 2 dam project in Stung Treng province.
“We came here to submit the petition to the National Assembly and Chinese Embassy to ask them to withdraw the hydropower project Lower Sesan 2 dam because if the dam is built, the villagers will lose their homes, rice fields and sacred burial graves,” said Nhoem Borany, an indigenous Tampuon minority from Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district.
Ms. Borany also said that compensation for residents upstream from the 400-megawatt dam, located in Sesan district, has not been factored in the environmental impact assessment.
Concerns about the compensation scheme were echoed on Thursday by Sesan district residents at a press conference organized by NGO Forum, an umbrella group of rights organizations.
Speaking a day before a draft law on the financing of the Lower Sesan 2 dam project is to be debated at the National Assembly, Chan Thon, a representative of Sesan district’s Srekor commune, said villagers were yet to receive information regarding compensation.
“If the National Assembly approves the draft law, we will protest by submitting petitions because the villagers are still not clear about the compensation,” Mr. Thon said.
Meach Mean, coordinator for local environmental group 3S Rivers Protection Network, said past experience has shown that compensation plans have not gone smoothly.
“The government will be responsible on paper but in reality, the communities will still not have [what they are promised],” he said. “So how can the communities get hope from this project?”
The National Assembly is scheduled to discuss the draft law today.