Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Relocation land not cleared

Relocation land not cleared

A view of the construction site of the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in Stung Treng province. The dam is scheduled to start generating power by the end of this year. Photo supplied
A view of the construction site of the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in Stung Treng province. The dam is scheduled to start generating power by the end of this year. Photo supplied

Relocation land not cleared

Over 1,000 hectares of agricultural land granted as compensation to more than 300 ethnic Lao families displaced from Sre Kor village in Stung Treng province by the Lower Sesan II dam project have not been cleared for cultivation, threatening the families with a food shortage, the villagers say.

Between January and March, ethnic Lao villagers began relocating from Sre Kor village to new homes 3 kilometres away. In addition to a sum of around $6,000 and a plot of land to live on, the Hydropower Lower Sesan II Co Ltd offered each family that agreed to relocate 5 hectares of land for farming, which it pledged to clear and plough in advance.

However, Srekor Commune Chief Siek Mekong yesterday said that much of the land has yet to be prepared.

“It influences their livelihood since they consume only their natural rice, not the rice from the market,” Mekong said.

According to Mekong, of the 1,500 hectares given to the families, only 450 hectares have been ploughed, primarily by villagers who can afford to hire other farmers with tractors, who charge between 150,000 riel ($37) to 200,000 riel ($50) per hectare.

“[The villagers] have sacrificed their old location for the nation,” he said. “Provincial authorities should urge the company to plough for the people.”

Read more: Dam to bring power, pain

Stung Treng Provincial Deputy Governor Duong Pov said the company will finish ploughing the land this month, clarifying that clearing and ploughing the land was not the government’s responsibility.

“The state gave this task to the company to complete,” said Pov. “[The ploughing] is late because it is the rainy season and the vehicles find it hard to [clear].”

Lower Sesan II representative Um Ret repudiated Mekong’s assertions, stating that the company cleared 90 percent of the agricultural land. Ret claimed that the remaining area belongs to villagers who came late to the relocation area and recommended that villagers ask local authorities to notify the company if their land still required ploughing.

Yet Bun Leap, a coordinator at 3S Rivers Protection Network, said that villagers had already complained the resettlement land was not prepared for agricultural use during an NGO Forum-sponsored meeting between villagers and representatives of the Ministry of Mines and Energy in Phnom Penh in March.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy did not respond to requests for comment.

Additional reporting by Martin de Bourmont

A previous version of this article described Siek Mekong as the former Srekor Commune Chief. He is actually a former Srekor Commune Chief for the Sam Rainsy Party but the current Commune Chief for the Cambodia National Rescue Party. The Post apologises for the error.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42