Petition Submitted to Stop Work on Sesan 2 Dam

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.

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