Sesan Dam Construction to Start Next Month

Construction of the Lower Sesan 2 dam will begin early next month, residents and authorities said after a meeting in Stung Treng province on Monday.

Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem for the first time gave a time frame for the construction of the dam at the meeting, which was attended by Kith Meng, whose Royal Group will build the dam with Chinese firm Hydro­lancang Inter­national Energy Co. Ltd.

“His Excellency Suy Sem told us that the Lower Sesan 2 dam is very important for reducing poverty and developing the country and so the construction will start next month and it will be completed in 2017,” Voeun Sambath, chief of Sesan district’s Kbal Romeas commune, said after the meeting.

So far, families whose houses will be flooded by the dam’s 33,560-hectare reservoir have complained over the lack of information about compensation, which was addressed for the first time during the meeting.

Each family, Mr. Sambath said, was slated to receive five hectares of farmland and a 20-by-50-meter area of residential land with a wooden or concrete house of 80 square meters.

Royal Group and Hyrdolancang also said that they would compensate farmers for the loss of fruit trees—$35 for jackfruit trees, $33 for mango trees, $26 milk fruit trees, and $22 for coconut trees—Mr. Sambath said.

Srekor commune chief Siek Me­kong and Puth Khoeun, who represents more than 400 affected families in Srekor, confirmed the compensation offer, though he still was not happy about it.

“We have repeatedly asked for the [dam’s] suspension, but the government has ignored us.

“Now they are building,” Mr. Khoeun said.

Ian Baird, a fisheries expert and scientist with the University of Wisconsin Madison, estimated in a 2009 study that 5,000 Sesan district families would be displaced by the dam.

(Additional reporting by Denise Hruby)

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