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Sesan dam victims ‘to be given new facilities’

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A worker stands in front of the Lower Sesan II Dam after it was commissioned in Stung Treng province last year. Hong Menea

Sesan dam victims ‘to be given new facilities’

The Stung Treng provinical governor has pledged to build facilities for the remaining Banong ethnic villagers who were affected by flooding caused by the controversial Lower Sesan II Dam.

Two weeks after eight villagers representing 52 familes in Kbal Romeas village filed a letter seeking a solution, Governor Mom Saroeun visited the villagers on Thursday and promised that authorities and the Hydropower Lower Sesan II Company will build facilities to replace those damaged.

Broch Rithy, who was present at the meeting, said the promise is a response to their requests to build a classroom, health centre, pagoda, pond and a 13km road to the village.

However, he said the villagers were suspicious of the governor’s promise as he had only made them verbally, and without anything in writing.

“The provincial governor talked to us directly this time. He said he will find a solution for us, but we don’t trust him yet. If it is true, he should have given us a letter in writing with his thumbprint on it. We want the authorities to build the faicilities soon,” Rithy said.

He said the governor also promised to give land titles to the communal land they currently use.

The community, Rithy said, asked for as much as 6,000 hectares of land to be legally given to them, although they were likely to be given 900 hectares only, as some of the communal land they were using is owned by a private company.

Over 80 families of Kbal Romeas previously agreed to relocate, while the 52 families refused. The $800 million, 400-megawatt dam’s doors were closed on October last year, inundating over 60 houses in Srekor village, with the level of water reaching one metre high in Kbal Romeas.

Men Kong, the provincial hall’s spokesman, acknowledged that Saroeun had made the promise, and that the governor will deliver a letter to the relevant authorities requesting them to stufy the location before constructing the facilities.

He said construction of the road will begin when the dry season arrives, otherwise, the build quality will be substandard and the machinery will not work.

“The governor decided on the spot to form a working group to identify the area for construction,” Kong said.

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