‘If there had not been this project, we would have still been living in hardship, using kerosene-burning lamps or batteries,” Souy For, a 51-year-old father-of-two, said of a new power station in Cambodia.
He noted that the key project – the Lower Sesan II hydropower station – is bringing unprecedented development to his village.
“At the new village, because of low-priced and stable electricity, we have experienced something new such as air-conditioning, fans, refrigerators and televisions, which we had never had at the old village due to the lack of electricity,” he said, adding that the future is very promising for them in the new Srekor Thmey village.
For was among hundreds of families who voluntarily agreed to leave their old villages for relocation to new places to pave the way for the development of a 400 megawatt Lower Sesan II hydropower station in the Sesan district in Cambodia’s northern Stung Treng province.
Completed in 2018, the Lower Sesan II hydropower Station is a joint venture between China’s Huaneng Hydrolancang International Energy, which holds a 51 per cent stake, Cambodia’s Royal Group with 39 per cent of shares, and Vietnamese EVN International Joint Stock Company possessed 10 per cent.
Cambodian Environment Ministry secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the project is empowering the Southeast Asian nation’s socio-economic development with the capacity of 400 megawatts of clean renewable energy.
“This project is essential to ensure Cambodia’s energy security and it has been providing tremendous benefit to the whole Cambodia and its people,” he said.
Sixty-three-year old farmer Foeun Heng was relocated to the village in 2016, beginning a new life with an 80-square-metre wooden house and five hectares of farmland provided by the local government and the project company.
He planted cashew trees on his five hectares of land, which earned him nearly $3,000 a year from harvesting cashew nuts.
“Now my family has a steady income and our living conditions are much better,” Foeun Heng told Xinhua.
“In the old village, we lived from hand to mouth, depending only on rice fields and fishing.
“Life is convenient here because we have good roads, drainage systems, pumping wells, cheap electricity, schools, healthcare centres, pagodas and police stations,” he said.
Chief of Srekor Thmey commune Foeun Choeun said the relocated community currently has 996 families with nearly 3,000 people.
“Their living conditions have positively changed after they moved to this new place,” he said. “Some families had only bikes or old motorcycles at the old village, but now they own two or three motorcycles or a car.”
He added that currently, each relocated family has a few smartphones and it is quite different from the past when few families could even afford a cellphone.
Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) has given the “Excellent Power Generation Enterprise Award” to the Lower Sesan II hydropower plant, commending it for continuously supplying stable and reliable clean power to Cambodia.
“During the past two years of operations, the Lower Sesan II hydropower project has been professional by providing a reliable electricity supply to the Kingdom of Cambodia,” EDC managing director Keo Rottanak said in the certificate of commendation.
Electricity provided by this project accounted for 18.69 per cent of the total power generated in Cambodia in 2020. As of August 2, electricity generated there exceeded 600 million kilowatt-hours.
“Despite disruption caused by Covid-19, the hydropower plant has still supplied electricity to the national power grid stably because our workers have worked around the clock and they have not gone home during this time in order to curb the spread of Covid-19,” Lower Sesan II hydropower station public relations officer Chhay Khaymeng said.
The Fisheries Administration of Cambodia in July issued a certificate to the project in recognition of the company’s achievements in fish protection.
Pheaktra said the plant has paid high attention to not only the affected people, but also environmental protection by complying with all requirements in the Environmental Impact Assessment paper. Xinhua