Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Relocation site for Sesan villagers flooded

Relocation site for Sesan villagers flooded

Stung Treng’s Srekor village seen close to submersion after the closing of several Lower Sesan II dam gates.
Stung Treng’s Srekor village seen close to submersion after the closing of several Lower Sesan II dam gates. Photo supplied

Relocation site for Sesan villagers flooded

A resettlement site for residents evicted from a now-flooded area near the Lower Sesan II Dam is itself facing inundation, with 15 hectares of crops destroyed and 300 metres of a newly built road already submerged.

Hundreds of residents from Stung Treng’s Srekor village affected by the dam – which went online in September – accepted compensation from the Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Co Ltd and moved to resettlement sites.

Flooding in the old Srekor village has now reached the town’s rooftops and, according to Siek Mekong, chief of Srekor commune, the new settlement area provided by the company, with the assistance of the government, is also being inundated.

According to Mekong, rice and cashew crops in the new town have been submerged for around two weeks already, and are completely destroyed.

“The water is at hip level,” he explained. Mekong also said the villagers are unable to use the newly built road because flooding there is a metre high. Some have resorted to using boats.

Commune authorities have made a preliminary report on the situation, while the provincial hall spokesman and provincial director of the Mines and Energy Department declined to comment yesterday.

“The rice plantation has been submerged. People lost money and time. I think that the company’s experts are not capable or specialised enough,” Mekong said, adding that villagers are demanding compensation from the company based on market prices.

Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Co Ltd is a joint venture between the Chinese Hydrolancang International Energy, Vietnam-based EVN International and Cambodia’s Royal Group, headed by tycoon Kith Meng. The project has been controversial from the start, with experts warning the dam would have catastrophic impacts on fish habitats and the annual flood cycle, and human rights groups lamenting the forced evictions of thousands of indigenous villagers from their ancestral lands.

Chhay Meng, a company representative, said that they were aware of the flooded crops and are inspecting the situation. Meng blamed the villagers for extending their allotted plots of land to an area near a canal, which he said “is very vulnerable to flooding”. Despite this, Meng said the company was looking into compensating the affected families with new plots of farmland. He declined to comment further.

The provincial government had offered all villagers living in what is now the dam’s reservoir a compensation package of $6,000 per family or 5 hectares of land – including a newly built home – regardless of location. While most accepted one of the two options, around 60 of the 570 families refused any deal.

They have moved most of their belongings to relatives’ homes or personal property on higher ground, but still visit the village regularly, even as houses there become fully submerged.

Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, head of the now delisted NGO Mother Nature, said the situation at the resettlement site was “the beginning of a nightmare”.

Mother Nature worked closely with the Srekor villagers before their relocation, and Gonzalez-Davidson said that many of them were resistant to moving, because “they find the relocation site totally unacceptable”.

“I’m sure there was no due diligence, no real consultation,” Gonzalez-Davidson continued, adding that he “anticipate[s] it will only get worse”.

Additional reporting by Andrew Nachemson

MOST VIEWED

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Nod given for school exams

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced that State-run higher educational institutions can hold examinations to end the academic year, while private schools can organise grade 9 and grade 12 examinations at their premises for two days. However, private institutions have to take measures to prevent

  • Kingdom’s exports to US mushroom 25.94% in first five months to $2.4B

    Though Cambodia’s exports to other countries have been stalled amid the evolving Covid-19 environment, the Kingdom’s shipments to the US were worth 25.94 per cent more in the first five months of this year than they were in the year-ago period. Bilateral trade between

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was