Villagers Ask Chinese Embassy to Intervene Against Dam Investors

Communities threatened by the planned construction of three hydropower dams in Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri provinces will today submit to the Chinese Embassy a petition demanding that the embassy intervene against Chinese companies investing in the dams.

The petition, to be presented in Chinese, Khmer and English, urges Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Bu Jianguo to “kindly intervene with Hydrolancang [International Energy] company to reconsider its investment on the Lower Sesan 2 hydropower dam,” which is to be built in conjunction with Cambodian conglomerate Royal Group.

Recent studies have shown that the 400-MW Lower Sesan 2 in Stung Treng will displace 5,000 people and adversely affect 100,000 more, with fish stocks expected to drop about 9.3 percent in the Mekong Basin.

In addition to the Lower Sesan 2, the petition, collated by the 3S Rivers Protection Network, addresses two proposed dam sites in Ratanakkiri province—the Lower Sesan 3, which is backed by Chinese company Sinohydro Resources and the Srepok 3, which Huadian Hong Kong Co. Ltd. has the contract for.

The petition asks that Ms. Bu “ensure that these companies fully investigate the impacts and reconsider their investment in other potentially harmful projects,” namely the 300-MW Lower Sesan 3 and Lower Srepok 3 dams, which will be built in parts of Ratanakkiri’s Veun Sai, Taveng, and Lumphat districts.

Meach Mean, coordinator at 3S Rivers, which represents some 75,000 people who could be directly affected by the dams, said Wednesday that the Chinese companies should exercise social responsibility and pull out of construction.

“We think that whenever the Chinese companies reconsider and withdraw from the construction of hydropower dams, the construction by a local company solely will never be able to start,” he said, adding that Sinohydro and Huadian had reportedly completed environmental and social impact assessments to build the dams in Ratanakkiri.

Land-clearing for the Lower Sesan 2, which was started in March by a company owned by Kith Meng, chairman of Royal Group, was suspended by the government in October.

Contacted Wednesday, Puth Khoeun, a representative of Srekor Commune in Stung Treng’s Sesan district, said that the halt in clearing appeared to be temporary.

“It seems the company is just taking a break for a while since machinery and workers are still staying at a wood warehouse built about 1 km away from the commune office,” he said.

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