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New $4b dams in planning

New $4b dams in planning

Proposed 10 dams will boost irrigation, generate electricity

THE Ministry of Water Resources and

Meteorology has begun preliminary studies for the building of a series

of dams across four provinces.

"We are planning to build more than 10 dams and related irrigation

systems in four northwestern provinces to ensure rice production during

both the rainy and dry seasons," Veng Sakhon, secretary of state for

the ministry, told the Post this week.

The proposed dams would

provide the country with a more modern irrigation system as well as

generate electricity for rural communities, he said.

However, other dam projects have come under fire for their impact on the environment and lack of transparency.

The

ministry aims to build four dams in Pursat province that would supply

irrigation to more than 35,000 hectares of land and generate as much as

300 megawatts of power for local communities. Other proposed dam sites

include locations in Battambang, Kampong Chhnang and Banteay Meanchey

provinces, and the ministry is consulting with engineers from China and

South Korea, Veng Sakhon said.

He added that the government must look outside the country for the money needed to complete the ambitious project.

"We

will need more than US$4 billion," he said, adding that the ministry is

still in the preliminary stages of planning the massive projects.

Chan Tong Yves, secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture,

Forestry and Fisheries, said Cambodia must improve its irrigation

systems to meet greater agricultural and export demands. "We have

suffered drought in some areas, but nothing serious yet," he said.

Meas Sotheavy, head of the statistics office at the ministry's

Planning and Statistics Department, said only a relatively small

portion of Cambodia's rice fields is irrigated.

"Now, only about

30 percent of rice paddies are connected to irrigation systems. We'd

like to get that number to 40 percent by the end of this year," she

said. 

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