Cambodia: Groups raise alarm over severe food, livelihood, environmental, cultural impacts of Lower Sesan 2 Dam project; companies do not respond

Riverbank-gardening-on-site-of-Lower-Sesan2-Dam-photo-by-Intl-Rivers

Lower Sesan 2 Dam is located near the confluence of the Sesan and Srepok Rivers in Stung Treng Province, Cambodia – two of the Mekong River’s most significant tributaries. Expert studies have shown that the dam would cause a substantial drop in fish stocks, threaten over 50 fish species and alter the livelihoods and cultures of tens of thousands of people, mostly belonging to minority groups. Thousands have been displaced so far.

Groups of villagers and their civil society supporters have repeatedly appealed to the Cambodian Government, as well as the companies involved, to halt the construction of the project and to provide appropriate information and opportunities for meaningful engagement. These appeals have not been acted on by the parties concerned.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited project developers China Huaneng Group (parent of Hydrolancang International Energy), Royal Group and Vietnam Electricity to respond to reports by villagers and NGOs raising serious environmental and social concerns; the companies did not respond. We continue to invite the companies to send their responses.

Related reports and statements are linked below.

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Article
6 February 2019

Cambodia: Environmentalists warn of potential risks from hydropower dam construction

Author: Eijas Ariffin, The ASEAN Post

"Are Cambodia’s hydropower plans risky?", 5 February 2019

…, Cambodia’s electricity consumption over the past decade has skyrocketed. In a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF),…

… With the Mekong River flowing through the country, it is no coincidence that hydropower is Cambodia’s main source of energy accounting for more than 40 percent of total electricity generation.

…, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen launched the country’s newest hydropower scheme. The 400-megawatt Lower Sesan 2 is said to have cost US$780 million to build and was backed by Chinese funding.

This project is not the only one backed by Chinese money in Cambodia. As part of China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative…

Cambodia’s reliance on hydropower for its energy needs could have a detrimental effect on the country… There is also a growing concern that the construction of these dams could have an adverse impact on the Mekong river. Construction of dams along the Mekong raises immediate risks for fisheries, farming, and food security in Cambodia…

... Environmentalists warn that around 5,000 people, mostly from vulnerable indigenous groups could be displaced by the project. International Rivers, … has said that the dam will have a “costly catastrophic impact on the Mekong River's fisheries and biodiversity".

The Cambodian government is aware of the potential problems associated with hydropower. According to Nao Thuok, a Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the government is currently operating on projections of a 16 to 30 percent drop in fish biomass…

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Company response
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Author: Eijas Ariffin, The ASEAN Post

…柬埔寨首相洪森启动了最新的水电工程建设计划。据说,发电量400兆瓦的塞桑河下游二号大坝(Lower Sesan 2)造价达7.8亿美元,由中国提供资金。该项目仅是中国在柬埔寨资助的众多项目之一。…柬埔寨依靠水电满足能源需求可能在国内产生不利影响…另一个日益受到关注的问题是…在湄公河支流修建大坝会对柬埔寨的渔牧业和粮食安全产生直接影响。…环保人士发出警告,约5000人,其中多数属于脆弱的土著群体将因项目施工而迁移至他处。国际河流组织(International Rivers)表示,大坝将“对湄公河的渔业和生物多样性产生灾难性的影响。”…2018年6月,一份泄露的环境影响评估报告显示中国支持拟建的桑博尔大坝(Sambor Hydropower Dam)可能会“杀死”湄公河…

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Author: Eijas Ariffin, The ASEAN Post

…柬埔寨首相洪森啟動了最新的水電工程建設計劃。據說,發電量400兆瓦的塞桑河下游二號大壩(Lower Sesan 2)造價達7.8億美元,由中國提供資金。該項目僅是中國在柬埔寨資助的眾多項目之一。 …柬埔寨依靠水電滿足能源需求可能在國內產生不利影響 …另一個日益受到關注的問題是…在湄公河支流修建大壩會對柬埔寨的漁牧業和糧食安全產生直接影響。 …環保人士發出警告,約5000人,其中多數屬於脆弱的土著群體將因項目施工而遷移至他處。國際河流組織(International Rivers)表示,大壩將“對湄公河的漁業和生物多樣性產生災難性的影響。”…2018年6月,一份洩露的環境影響評估報告顯示中國支持擬建的桑博爾大壩(Sambor Hydropower Dam)可能會“殺死”湄公河…

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Article
9 December 2018

Cambodia: Stung Treng authorities agree to the ethnic bunong community's request following the impact of Lower Sesan II dam construction

Author: Chakrya Sophak Khouth, The Phnom Penh Post

"Stung Treng authority agrees to Bunong request", 5 December 2018

Stung Treng provincial authorities have unanimously agreed to the request and conditions of the ethnic Bunong community members from Kbal Romeas village who have been impacted by the Lower Sesan II dam in the province…

Stung Treng provincial hall spokesman Men Kong told … that the five conditions set by the 52 ethnic Bunong families from the Kbal Romeas community have been accepted by the authorities and the company behind the dam.

… the Kbal Romeas community’s requests include recognition of the ethnic families’ rights in building houses on the new location they have chosen and the construction of a road, school, health centre and a pond that generates clean water for consumption.

…Like the ethnic Bunong families from Kbal Romeas, the Sre Kor villagers demand authorities include them in the official list of ethnic communities.

… Addressing villagers’ concerns about the lack of clean water, Kong said district authorities have been ordered to make a field visit to the site.

During the dam’s inauguration …, Prime Minister Hun Sen said it would lower electricity costs and put the Kingdom on its way to hooking up every village in the country to the electricity grid by 2002.

A joint project between China-based Hydrolancang International Energy, Vietnam-based EVN International and Cambodia’s Royal Group, the dam will be privately operated before being handed over to the government after 40 years.

The dam has displaced around 1,500 households and flooded tens of thousands of hectares of forest in the province’s Sesan district.

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Article
4 December 2018

Cambodia: Bunong ethnic community faces water shortage because of Lower Sesan II dam construction

Author: Chakrya Sophak Khouth, The Phnom Penh Post

"Bunong families claim Lower Sesan II dam is causing water shortage", 4 December 2018

More than 100 families, including Bunong ethnic community members who have been impacted by the Lower Sesan II dam in Stung Treng province, complained … about the shortage of clean water.

The villagers, who have rejected compensation for relocation and currently live on higher ground about 5km from their now-flooded villages in Sesan district’s Kbal Romeas commune, said a pond dug by the provincial authority in the area has not produced any water.

Srang Lanh, a representative of the families, told … that water in the dam’s reservoir is not clean enough for consumption. He said the water is smelly and could be harmful to villagers’ health, while rainwater has also run out…

Another villager, Khem Chamroeun, said the villagers currently rely on water from a well on an old rice field about 1km from their makeshift homes…

Provincial and Sesan district authorities could not be reached for comment…

 

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Article
13 January 2015

Groups raise rights concerns over Lower Sesan 2 & Stung Cheay Dams with UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia

Author: 3S Rivers Protection Network, EarthRights International, International Rivers, Samreth Law Group

“Human Rights Concerns Over Hydropower Development in Cambodia Brought to the UN”, 13 January 2015

International and Cambodian groups…issued a complaint to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia raising concerns over human rights violations resulting from the development of two hydropower dam projects in Cambodia. The complaint highlights the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, currently under construction in Stung Treng Province, and the Stung Cheay Areng Dam in Koh Kong Province…The complaint calls on the Special Rapporteur to investigate and seek remedial action for existing and imminent breaches of human rights in relation to these projects…Recent asset surveys by the project developers of the Lower Sesan 2 (LS2) Dam have raised concerns over villagers being pressured and intimidated into agreeing with the surveys and the proposed resettlement plans…In the complaint, concerns are also raised over the severe environmental impacts the LS2 Dam is predicted to cause in Cambodia and the region…If it proceeds, the Stung Cheay Areng Dam will displace approximately 1500 indigenous inhabitants of the Areng Valley…The project is also expected to…[wreak] havoc on unique ecosystems and rare and critically endangered wildlife within the pristine valley…

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Company non-response
16 December 2014

China Huaneng Group did not respond

Company non-response
16 December 2014

Vietnam Electricity did not respond

Company non-response
15 December 2014

Royal Group did not respond

Article
30 November 2014

Affected Communities Appeal to the National Assembly: Lower Sesan2 Dam Damages Cambodia’s Rich Natural Resources, Cancel the Project Immediately

Author: 3S Rivers Protection Network (Cambodia)

Community representatives…[traveled] to Phnom Penh…to ask…[the] President of the National Assembly of Cambodia for the assembly’s intervention to immediately cancel the Lower Sesan 2 project…[R]epresentatives express concerns over LS2’s huge negative impacts on rich natural resources, especially fish in Cambodia, including the Great Tonle Sap Lake, and the entire Mekong River…One study predicts that the dam will cause a 9.3% drop in fish stocks basin-wide. This amounts to approximately 200,000 tons of fish per year…Most villagers who will face involuntary relocation by LS2 are ethnic minorities such as Pou Nong, Charay, Kring, Prov and Lao. They have their own cultures that have strong connections to natural resources, especially the land that they have lived on since their ancestors’ times…

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