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Ratanakkiri villagers say dams have drained rivers

Ratanakkiri villagers say dams have drained rivers

ENVIRONMENTALISTS and representatives of communities in remote parts of Ratanakkiri province say the waters of the Sesan and Srepok rivers have dropped to unseasonably low levels, something they claim is linked to the development of hydropower dams along tributaries of the Mekong.

Poy Suoth, 54, a representative from Tonle Sesan village in Ratanakkiri’s Veun Sai district, said on Monday that her community has grown concerned since members saw fish dying because water levels were too low. “This is not caused by climate change. It is caused by hydropower dam construction in some countries, like Laos, Thailand and Vietnam,” she said.

The 3S Rivers Protection Network and community representatives held a meeting in Veun Sai district on Monday to discuss how women in particular stand to be affected by the construction of hydropower dams.

Nen Sokith, 23, who represents a community from the banks of the Srepok River, said that some parts of the river were so depleted that people could not bathe.

“Some of our villagers have contracted diarrhoea and skin diseases after using the raw water they took from the river,” she said.

Meach Mean, coordinator of the 3S Rivers Protection Network, said on Monday that people living in the area of the planned Lower Sesan II dam were especially concerned about environmental effects.

Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, could not be reached for comment on Monday.