Veal Veng Town Residents Fear Electricity Lines Going Up

Residents of Pursat province’s Veal Veng town are raising concerns over power lines being constructed near their homes as part of a large hydroelectric dam project in Veal Veng district, district officials said yesterday.

Locals worry that the power lines from the CHD company’s Atay dam may affect their health and put them at risk of electrocution if they break, said Chin Ly, a Veal Veng district official who lives about 100 meters from one electricity pylon site.

“Villages raised strong concerns when in recent days the workers started to lay foundations for posts,” Mr Ly said.

About fifty affected residents want CHD company, which has already dug nine holes for the electricity pylons in the town, to move the power lines further away, he said. Villagers want a distance of at least 300 meters, but several houses and a commune office are currently only 3 to 5 meters from where poles are being built, he added.

Chhe Chhiv, Veal Veng district governor, said that villagers had not filed official complaints on the matter, but that he had discussed their concerns with a company representative.

” I had a meeting with the company [representative], who told me that the power lines will not affect health…. The company guaranteed safety,” Mr Chhiv said.

Families will receive compensation if electricity posts are being built on their land, and the whole community will benefit from access to electricity, he said.

Khoy Sokha, Pursat provincial governor, said that he was aware of villagers’ health concerns, but that company technicians said these are unfounded.

“Before starting to build the power posts, the company conducted a study,” Mr Sokha said.

The Atay dam is scheduled to begin producing power in 2012 for distribution across the province and Phnom Penh, Mr Sokha said.

CHD could not be reached for comment yesterday. The company was granted a license for an electricity power generation station in Veal Veng district last year, according to a document posted on the website of the Electricity Authority of Cambodia.

According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence to date that exposure to low levels of electromagnetic radiation is harmful to humans.

  (Additional reporting by Alice Foster)



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