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Assembly group to probe dam payouts

Construction takes place at the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in Stung Treng province in 2015.
Construction takes place at the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in Stung Treng province in 2015. Heng Chivoan

Assembly group to probe dam payouts

The National Assembly’s Commission on Economics, Finance and Auditing intends to pay a visit to Stung Treng to investigate villagers’ dissatisfaction with the compensation packages they received for their displacement by the Lower Sesan II dam.

The commission’s decision to investigate follows an NGO Forum-sponsored meeting in Phnom Penh last Thursday, in which locals from the province whose villages stand to be flooded by the dam met with representatives of the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

While a number of villagers at the meeting explained that they would not leave their ancestral homelands, despite warnings that their villages would be largely underwater, other villagers who have already taken packages complained of dismal conditions in resettlement villages.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, the commission’s deputy chair, said the objective of the trip to Stung Treng would be to “investigate complaints that in the [relocation] area they lack water, there are no jobs”.

“Compensation is supposed to be paid by the dam company, but with government support to deliver this deal,” said Chhay, whose commission oversees public investment. The visit, originally scheduled for March 18, is being rescheduled as commission chair Cheam Yeap is ill.

“The provincial [government] has not yet officially received information from the National Assembly about [the trip],” said Meng Kong, a spokesman for Stung Treng. “But the province will welcome them and suggest to the dam firm to be present and clarify with them directly.”

The Ministry of Mines could not be reached for comment.

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