Villagers Appeal to Halt Stung Treng Dam

Eleven village representatives from Stung Treng and Ratanakiri provinces traveled to Phnom Penh yesterday to meet with National Assembly lawmakers and appeal for an end to the planned construction of the Lower Sesan 2 Dam. The hydropower project, funded by Vietnam Electricity, will flood tens of thousands of hectares of forest and farmland, and displace 5000 mostly indigenous minority villagers in Sesan district. Villagers were told last May they would be evicted, but have never been informed of resettlement plans or when construction will begin. Chan Thon, 70, a representative from Stung Treng’s Sesan district, said the he and 10 other representatives had voiced their concerns to five lawmakers from the assembly’s committee on environmental issues. Their worries centered around the impact of the dam’s construction, and they pleaded with government officials to visit the affected people before completing a resettlement and compensation plan. Mr. Thon said the dam’s actual impact on villagers’ livelihoods cannot be properly assessed without the input of local people.