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Last Sesan holdouts sit tight

Floodwaters in Kbal Romeas village, where residents have begun leaving their homes after the closure of the gates of the Lower Sesan II Dam.
Floodwaters in Kbal Romeas village, where residents have begun leaving their homes after the closure of the gates of the Lower Sesan II Dam. Photo supplied

Last Sesan holdouts sit tight

Villagers from Kbal Romeas, which will soon be completely inundated by the Lower Sesan II Dam, yesterday said they are still resolved not to leave their homes, contradicting accounts of an official who said the majority of the 58 families had already relocated last week.

Sraing Lanh, 40, said the floods reached their village last Thursday, and as of yesterday the water level stood at 1 and a half metres. Nonetheless, she said the majority of the villagers were not ready to leave their homes.

“We don’t accept any compensation,” she said.

“We will not leave our village even if our homes are completely flooded.” Another villager, Lat Vibol, said some families have left while others are still holding out.

“Some of the families who left have young children,” he said, adding they were afraid their kids might drown.

Men Kong, Stung Treng Provincial Hall spokesman, claimed that the majority of the 58 families had moved their belongings elsewhere, mostly to their plots of farmland.

“Only a few families remain at the old village now,” he said. “But they must leave when more floods come.”

Last week, the last residents of the neighbouring Srekor village moved to land either at the government’s resettlement site or a location of their choice.

Much of the indigenous villagers’ resistance to relocating stems from their spiritual attachment to the land and their ancestors’ graves as well as the traditional belief that their fates are linked to those of the spirits there.

Authorities set a deadline of December 31 for families to accept compensation.

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