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New body to address Sesan dam concerns

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

New body to address Sesan dam concerns

The Ministry of Mines and Energy has created a committee to resolve compensation and resettlement issues for 1,000 families displaced by the controversial Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in Stung Treng province.

The committee, chaired by Energy Minister Suy Sem, will be responsible for finding new homes for the villagers, building new infrastructure to service them and reviewing existing compensation.

Kem Ley, a researcher and political activist who studied the project, said that the committee is courting failure by not including representatives from civil society or members of the affected communities.

Ley said many affected families rejected the government’s one-size-fits-all compensation package. Displaced families were offered an 80-square-metre house and 5 hectares of plantation land apiece, regardless of their old property values.

Many families have also complained that the proposed resettlement sites are unsuitable for farming.

The Lower Sesan II is projected to cost $800 million, and is set to produce 400 megawatts of electricity when completed. The dam is about 40 per cent complete.

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