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Questions follow on heels of hydropower dam Sesan 2 vote

Villagers near the Sesan River in Stung Treng province are a step closer to being forced to make way for a hydropower dam following a National Assembly vote on Friday, but they are no closer to learning the details of such a move, a community representative said yesterday.

Keo Mib, a representative of villagers set to be relocated from where the $781 million, 400-megawatt dam will be built, said hundreds of families from three villages in the middle of the dam project still knew nothing about relocation plans.

“We’ve heard about the National Assembly’s decision, but we don’t know much about the funding approval. We hope our parliamentary representatives consider our living conditions.”

The National Assembly approved a financial draft law for the $781 million Lower Sesan 2 dam in Stung Treng province on Friday.

The approval is a step towards almost 800 families being relocated in return for compensation they have been told little about and have said is insufficient.

Eighty-two of 90 lawmakers approved the financing legislation after objections from opposition parties.

Assembly President Cheam Yeap said the benefits of the 400-megawatt dam were multiple.

“It will stimulate the country’s economy, reduce electricity prices, provide many jobs and enhance technology in our labour and tourism sector,” he said.

The company will pay about $38 million in compensation to relocate 797 families, which will include new houses, schools, health centres, streets and wells.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said, however, that according to a previous study, more than 1,000 families should receive compensation.

“More than 300 families are missing from this – where are they? The government documents have not clarified how much compensation each family will get,” he said.

Energy Minister Suy Sem said the original figure of more than 1,000 families had been reduced because only three communes – not four – were affected.

According to a government statement, the dam will be built by Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Company – comprising Kith Meng’s Royal Group and Chinese company Hydrolancang International, which together hold a 90 per cent stake – and Vietnamese firm EVN International.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sen David at david.sen@phnompenhpost.com
Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com

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