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Ministry asked about Mekong plan

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Members of the Supreme Consultation and Advisory Council on Thursday listen to Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem discuss a proposed plan to develop a sizeable stretch of the Mekong River and the recent increase in electricity bills despite a spate of power cuts. Ministry of Mines and Energy

Ministry asked about Mekong plan

A member of the Supreme Consultation Forum told The Post on Thursday that he had questioned the Ministry of Mines and Energy over its position regarding a proposed project to develop a sizeable stretch of the Mekong River.

Pich Sros, president of the Cambodian Youth Party, also raised the subject of the recent increase in electricity bills despite a spate of power cuts.

Sros was speaking after a Supreme Consultation Forum attended by the Minister of Mines and Energy and the chairman of Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) on Thursday.

He said he raised a question to Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem regarding the ministry’s stance on a proposed project by the Try Pheap Group Co Ltd for developing an extensive portion of the Mekong.

He told The Post on Thursday that he was worried the development of riversides was being used as a pretext for sand dredging.

“When the sand runs out from dredging, [we] are afraid there will be no support for riverbanks and our rivers will be negatively affected,” he said.

Sros said he wanted the Ministry of Mines and Energy to conduct research on the effects of sand dredging.

Ministry spokesman Yos Monirath told The Post on Thursday that Try Pheap had made a request to the government, with Prime Minister Hun Sen instructing Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, to lead a study to evaluate the project.

The Ministry had therefore yet to take a position as it was still waiting for the assessment study, Monirath said.

According to a Council of Ministers letter dated May 7, the government requested Kean Hor to discuss with the relevant institutions, Try Pheap Engineering and Construction Co Ltd “requesting a principle for permission” to study restoring the banks of the Mekong River from Kandal province’s Ka’am Samnor commune near the Cambodia-Vietnam border to Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces, and the Tonle Bassac.

Sros also asked the chairman of EdC, Keo Ratanak, whether there was a second option for electricity supply when water levels in the reservoirs of hydroelectric dams were low.

“We cannot have only one option. Power outages occurred often recently but electricity bills increased. What solution does EdC have for the citizens who have complained about this throughout the country . . . no electricity but instead increased electricity bills?” Sros asked.

Sros said Ratanak blamed the recent high temperatures and heavy consumption of electricity by the general public.

“I don’t understand this point. I have had this experience. My home did not consume a lot of [electricity] when the temperature was not hot too, but the [electricity bill] still increased.”

The director-general of the General Department of Mines and Energy Victor Zona could not be reached for comment by press time.

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