Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New forest dam planned

New forest dam planned

New forest dam planned

A 9,100-hectare land concession,  earmarked for a hydropower project, has been granted to a Chinese company in protected Koh Kong province forest. The firm has already been given land that appears to far exceed Cambodia’s legal limit.

Union Development Group is now developing a 36,000-hectare land concession for a tourism project in Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts, and has now been given the green light to construct a
hydropower dam.

A 2008 sub-decree awarded the company the 36,000 hectares to develop a US$5 billion tourism zone. The zone is set to displace 1,149 families and seems to violate a 10,000-hectare limit on land concessions set out in article 59 of the land law.

A new sub-decree, obtained  by the Post yeterday and signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, was issued on August 12. It reclassifies the protected forest area from state to public land, paving the way for Union Development Group to build a hydrodam of unspecified capacity and electrical output.

Nhol Thon, director of Botum Sakor protected national park, said yesterday the company’s tourism project had led to the conservation and regeneration of forest, not its degradation.

“The government has the right to take some of the national park if needed, it is not wrong,” he said.

Thuk Kroeun Vutha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, said yesterday that “before the government gave rights to the company to develop, it allowed expert officers to come down to the field and conduct clear research already”.

But some fear the company’s real intention is to log forest. Chut Wutty, director of the Natural Resource Protection Group, estimated yesterday some 50 to 60 percent of forest in the company’s tourism concession had now been cleared. “You can see in that area it’s mostly mountain and rock. They don’t have good soil on it. And if they say  they are developing all these things it’s a trick,” he said.

Some villagers, he said, had accepted relocation offers while others had refused to leave and continued to negotiate for a better deal. A representative of Union Development Group declined to comment.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • ‘Kingdom lacks up to 400MW in available electricity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the general public, hoteliers and businesspeople with generators to use them as back-up as the Electricity Authority of Cambodia cannot generate enough electricity to meet needs due to low water levels in power station reservoirs. On Saturday evening

  • Sor Chandeth defends his criticism of Hun Sen

    Former senator Sor Chandeth has defended his choice of words when criticising Hun Sen, saying he was merely speaking metaphorically to attack the Prime Minister’s political life, not his actual person, as the latter seeks damages. [img] Chandeth spoke to The Post on Thursday,

  • South Korea’s Moon arrives in Kingdom for state visit

    South Korean president Moon Jae-in and his wife arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday at the start of a three-day state visit to Cambodia to strengthen ties and further the friendship between the two countries. After arriving at the Phnom Penh International Airport in the