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Dam draft law flawed, say residents and NGOs

Citing a lack of consultation with more than 1,000 families set to be directly affected by the construction of the Lower Sesan 2’s dam reservoir in Stung Treng province, villagers and civil society groups yesterday called on the government to suspend approval of a draft funding law.

The law, which allocates about $40 million for villagers in Sesan district, has been criticised for reducing the number of families involved in the resettlement plans from more than 1,000 to about 800.

The NGO Forum on Cambodia joined the Rivers Coalition in Cambodia and the Housing Rights Network in calling for a halt on the government approving the law, which will be debated in the National Assembly today.

“We would like to request... that the National Assembly delay the adoption of this law in order to allow sufficient time for more detailed study of impact and verification of all data and documents,” a statement said.

Chan Thon, a community representative from Sesan district, said villagers would like the government to delay adopting the law.

“The number of households affected needs to be increased, and we need proper information to be revealed,” he said.

Cambodia’s Royal Group and Chinese firm Hydrolancang International Energy Company will build the $781 million Lower Sesan 2 at the confluence of the Sesan and Srepok rivers, indirectly affecting tens of thousands.

According to a document from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, dated December 12 last year and sent to the Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Company, effectively Royal Group, the government has guaranteed power purchases in the event of non-payment by Electricite du Cambodge and guarantees a bailout if the company is not able to operate the dam.

National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun said politicians did not take orders from civil society organisations.

“Please don’t do something that is not your role,” he said.

Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Ith Prang could not be reached.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com

and Chhay Channyda at channyda.chhay@phnompenhpost.com

 

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