Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Meet between officials, dam villagers cancelled

Meet between officials, dam villagers cancelled

A mother navigates a flooded area with her child on Sunday after water levels rose due to heavy rains and the closing of several of the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam’s gates in Stung Treng province. Photo supplied
A mother navigates a flooded area with her child on Sunday after water levels rose due to heavy rains and the closing of several of the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam’s gates in Stung Treng province. Photo supplied

Meet between officials, dam villagers cancelled

A meeting between representatives of two ethnic minority communities in Stung Treng that will be affected by the official start of operations at the Lower Sesan II dam was cancelled yesterday after provincial authorities placed too many conditions on the meeting, activists said.

Convened to allow some of the 200 residents of Kbal Romeas village and the already-flooded Srekor village to discuss their desires not to be relocated, the meeting was called off because only 10 representatives were to be let in instead of 35, said Mother Nature activist Thun Ratha.

Sun Youra, the development issues program director at NGO Forum, which had organised the meet, said provincial authorities had also said that any media attending would not be allowed to record the discussions that took place, leading the villagers to become suspicious.

“We do not want a secret meeting; without the wide presence of the journalists [the meeting] is useless,” Kbal Romeas community member Srang Lanh said.

Stung Treng Provincial Hall spokesman Men Kong denied that either of the conditions placed on the meeting had led to its cancellation, and said that NGO Forum had failed to coordinate with the two communities to ensure they would be present at the meeting.

Youra said he now did not know how the issue of the Srekor and Kbal Romeas holdouts would be resolved before the dam officially goes online.

“Unfortunately we could not reach an agreement,” he said. “If the parties cannot meet, we don’t know how to deal with the problem.”

Read more: Dam to bring power, pain

Meanwhile, after a two-week trial closure of eight of the Lower Sesan II dam’s 10 gates, the Hydropower Lower Sesan II Company reopened four of the gates yesterday.

The water levels at the dam itself now stand at around 69 metres, according to company representative Chhay Meng, who said the water levels would be reduced to 52 metres for the dam’s September 25 official inauguration, which will be presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

To avoid serious floods, Meng said, the dam company will now only keep three or four dam gates open at a time until the opening ceremony. A combination of the gates’ closure and heavy rains led to flooding in Srekor last week, with some parts of the village 1.5 metres under water.

Additional reporting by Martin de Bourmont

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,