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Groups say reliance on hydro may be harmful

EXPERTS from the private sector met with community representatives in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to discuss the country’s energy needs, and NGO officials warned that the government was relying too much on large hydropower projects to handle future power demands, calling for alternative energy sources to be found.

Access to cheap power remains one of the largest obstacles to development in Cambodia, which has some of the highest electricity costs in the region.

Pok Panha Vichet of the NGO Forum, which organised the discussion, reviewed the various forms of alternative energy that exist and are plausible for Cambodia, and presented a cost-benefit analysis of the government’s current strategy, which includes a heavy reliance on hydropower development.

“The government has approved five hydropower plans within the last four years ... but the dams will affect the living conditions of a million Cambodians in rural areas,” she said.

Bun Narith, deputy director at the Ministry of Industry’s Department of Energy, could not be reached on Tuesday.

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