Posted on 25 August 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 627
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 627
“Phnom Penh: The Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam in Phluk village along the Sesan River in Stung Treng, to be constructed with a height of 75 meters from the bottom of the river, with resulting lake having a total length of more than 10 km, will flood more than 30,000 hectares of land and force about 5,000 citizens of nine villages above the Sesan Hydro-electric dam to move out.
“The environment projects officer of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, Mr. Tonn Kunthel, said, ‘The Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam, to be built from early of 2010 to 2015, will affect nine villages in Sesan district lying along the Srae Pok River: Srae Kor 1, Srae Kor 2, Srae Sranok, Kbal Romeas, Kbal Spean Srae Pok, Krabei Chrum, Khsach Thmey, Svay Rieng, and Rumpot villages.’
“Mr. Tonn Kunthel added that ‘the 75-meter-heigh dam will submerge farm land of more than 30,000 hectares of the community and the National Road 13 from Stung Treng to Ratanakiri, worrying minority people who live along the Srae Pok River.’
“He went on to say that the environmental impacts will happen through the change in the flow of water: destructive floods which contaminate the water, landslides, loss of private land, loss of fish shelters and other water-borne life, and the sources of water-borne diseases affect the health of people in the community.
“All ethnic minority people living along the river will have to relocate to new villages far from their current villages, where the soil is not fertile enough for farming, and they will have to give up the crops that are providing good yields in their current villages.
“The Ratanakiri deputy governor, Mr. Mom Saroeun, said on 20 August 2009 in a celebration in Ratanakiri to mark the seventh anniversary of the three-river system â€“ Sesan, Srae Pok, and Sekong rivers, ‘Development cannot avoid certain impacts that we try to steer clear of.’ He added, ‘First we need to assess the impacts on the society, the economy, and the environment, especially to organize plans with the participations from all relevant institutions and from the communities, before any projects are finally decided.’
“Mr. Mom Saroeun said, ‘We will work together to take responsible actions to solve for existing problems emerging from the impacts, where we had found that there are more negative impacts than positive ones, and more loss than gain; project developers have to decide whether projects should be implemented or not, but their decisions must be really correct.’
“He added that not all developments yield profits, but they can also affect the society, the economy, and the environment.
“The Phluk Village chief, Mr. Khean Bun Heng â€“ a 43-year-old person from a Laotian ethnic minority, told Deum Ampil at his village, ‘More than 800 villagers of the 227 families in Phluk village that would be affected by the Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam, do not want that some companies construct a hydro-electric dam up-stream from their village, because they fear that the dam might break, flooding their houses, damaging their property, and killing them.’
“Representing Phluk villagers, the Phluk village chief asks the Cambodian government to cancel the contract to construct the dam.
“Mr. Choeum Kea, chief of the Kbal Romeas village, which lies up-stream from where the Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam is to be built, in Kbal Romeas commune, Sesan district, Stung Treng, told Deum Ampil that citizens of the 120 families in Kbal Romeas village will be forced to move away from the Srae Pok River, because the village will be flooded with a water level more than 30-meter above the village. This village chief added that the Phnoung ethnic people in the village do not want to relocate to new places.
“He explained that all people of the Phnoung community in the village are doing farming on fertile land and respect the spirits believed to be protecting them. At new places for settlement, the land is not fertile and has many stones. It is a low-lying area where it is difficult to establish a village, because the area is regularly flooded and under standing water.
“It should be noted that the Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam in Sesan district, Stung Treng, is planned to be constructed from early 2010 to 2015. The companies managing the plan are a company from Vietnam, Power Engineering Consulting Corporation 1 (PECC1), and a Cambodian company, Key Consultants Cambodia (KCC), investing approx. US$816 million. According to a Memorandum of Understanding achieved in 2007, between the Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Energy of Cambodia and Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), the EVN will study the implementation of the Sesan Krom II project by assessing also the environmental impacts.
“The Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam will generate more than 400 megawatt for the provinces around Stung Treng, and the rest of the electricity will also be sold to Vietnam and Laos.â€?
Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #270- 23-24.8.2009