Work Begins on Controversial Cambodian Dam

As work begins on Cambodia’s biggest dam, those advocating against its construction have warned that the region’s rush for hydropower will have a disastrous effect on millions of people who rely on the Mekong River to survive. Last month, workers began preparing an area in northeastern Cambodia for a huge hydropower project, the 400-megawatt Lower Se San 2 Dam. ... Scientists estimated the Lower Se San 2 Dam could reduce the total fish yield of the Mekong Basin by 9.3 percent. “So it’s 9.3 percent of 2.1 million tons - which is a gigantic amount," said Baran. "In other words, this expected loss represents around 200,000 tons per year, which is much more than the whole marine sector of Australia. And, nine times more than the annual inland fish catch in Germany or the U.S.” ... Meanwhile, work on the Lower Se San 2 Dam has started and thousands of people who live in the areas that will be submerged by the dam’s vast 300-square-kilometer reservoir have been told they will have to move. ... One of them is 37-year-old Pa Tou. He said none of the 400 ethnic minority families in Srekor village on the banks of the Se San River wants to leave. ... Pa Tou, who has three daughters, said that will not be possible at the relocation site, which is miles from the river. He said the land there is poor for farming - most of it is rocky or covered with trees - and there are no health clinics and no schools. He fears they will all be left much worse off.