Residents Ask Government To Reconsider Dam

A group representing villagers downstream from a proposed dam on the Sesan River said Monday it will request that the government reconsiders the dam project because it could displace thousands and destroy a system of migratory fish.

An environmental impact assessment for the Lower Sesan II dam project is scheduled to be completed in July, but Kim Sangha, coordinator for 3S Rivers Protection Network, said it’s already clear that the effects will be devastating for thousands of people who live on the Sesan, Srepok and Mekong rivers.

If cleared by the Ministry of Environment, Vietnam’s state-owned Electricity of Vietnam could begin construction on the dam, which would be located in Stung Treng’s Sesan district, in late 2009.

More than 200 villagers from eight provinces attended a two-day forum on the project last week and have signed a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ministries of Environment and Agri­culture asking them to consider their concerns, Kim Sangha said.

“The letter will tell the government to understand the high risk villagers are facing because of this dam,” Kim Sangha said. “The communities especially want the government to reconsider the plan because we see the future destruction as being greater than the benefit.”

Tang Sophannara, EIA consultant for Key Consultants, which is conducting the assessment of the dam, said the study has not yet concluded how large the dam will be or how many megawatts it will produce.

“After the study is completed, we will be aware of whether the project is acceptable or unacceptable,” he said.

Danh Serei, deputy director for the Ministry of Environment’s EIA department, said by telephone Friday that it was his understanding that villagers do not outright oppose the dam but only have some concerns.

“I know those people don’t ab­so­lutely disagree” with the project, he said.

Than Thon, a 66-year-old village rep­resentative from Stung Treng pro­vince, said his village of Srekor Mouy in Sesan district’s Srekor com­mune has never supported the plan.

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