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EU offers to fund study of Lower Sesan impact

Trucks drive through a deforested area last year, removing materials from the Lower Sesan II dam construction site in Stung Treng
Trucks drive through a deforested area last year, removing materials from the Lower Sesan II dam construction site in Stung Treng. Pha Lina

EU offers to fund study of Lower Sesan impact

The European Union has offered to fund a study of the Lower Sesan II dam’s impact on fisheries, the EU’s ambassador to Cambodia said yesterday.

Jean-François Cautain, EU ambassador, said the bloc had told the Fisheries Administration that it was willing to fund a study of the controversial dam’s impact following a meeting on Monday with Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem.

“The minister expressed his full support for a comprehensive study on the dam … I indicated that the European Union had expressed to the Fisheries Administration its readiness to fund this study,” Cautain said.

Construction of the dam, which is a joint venture between Cambodia’s Royal Group and China’s Hydrolancang International, began in early 2014. Zhonghua Ren, a spokesman for the Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has previously said there will be “little impact”.

Ian Baird, an academic who co-wrote a landmark 2009 study of the dam’s potential impacts, disagreed.

“The key to [the dam] is the impacts that will occur over a wide area … Fish that migrate between the Sesan and Srepok River basins will be blocked from travelling to the Tonle Sap Lake, the Mekong Delta, as well as upstream areas along the Mekong River in Laos and Thailand,” he said.

“People upstream of the dam may lose up to 85 per cent of their fish.”

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