China-financed Cambodia dam destroyed livelihoods of tens of thousands: Report
A massive Chinese-financed dam in Cambodia has “washed away the livelihoods” of tens of thousands of villagers while falling short of promised energy production, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
The 400-megawatt Lower Sesan 2 dam in the kingdom’s northeast has sparked controversy since long before its December 2018 launch.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
Fisheries experts had warned that damming the confluence of the Sesan and Srepok rivers -- two major tributaries of the resource-rich Mekong river -- would threaten fish stocks crucial to millions living along the Mekong’s flood plains.
Tens of thousands of villagers living upstream and downstream have suffered steep losses to their incomes, HRW said in Tuesday’s report, citing interviews conducted over two years with some 60 people from various communities.
“The Lower Sesan 2 dam washed away the livelihoods of Indigenous and ethnic minority communities who previously lived communally and mostly self-sufficiently from fishing, forest-gathering, and agriculture,” John Sifton, Human Rights Watch’s Asia advocacy director and the report’s author, said on Tuesday.
“Cambodian authorities need to urgently revisit this project’s compensation, resettlement, and livelihood-restoration methods.”
“There’s no doubt at all that (the dam) contributed significantly to the larger problems the Mekong is facing right now,” said Mekong energy and water expert Brian Eyler, while adding that more research was needed on the exact losses.
The government had pushed ahead with the project -- which involved resettling about 5,000 people -- in hopes of producing about one-sixth of Cambodia’s annual electricity needs as promised by China Huaneng Group, the builder.
But production levels are “likely far lower, amounting to only a third of those levels”, the report said.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan defended the dam, saying it provided “the most positive impacts” and that the resettled villagers have new homes, farmland, and electric power.
“The allegations are not reasonable, they don’t look at Cambodian experiences... and the new location is better than the old place,” Phay Siphan said, adding that the government would continue to monitor the impacts on surrounding villages.
The dam, which cost a reported $780 million to build, is part of China’s Belt and Road initiative, a mammoth $1 trillion-dollar infrastructure vision for maritime, rail and road projects across Asia, Africa and Europe.
The scheme, a symbol of Beijing’s efforts to extend economic influence around the world, has been widely criticized for saddling small countries with unmanageable debt.
Read more: Cambodia and Thailand reconnected by rail after 45 years
Cambodia premier hails extraction of country’s ‘first drop of oil’Cambodian premier Hun Sen announced Tuesday that the kingdom had extracted its first drop of crude oil from its waters, a long-awaited milestone for ... Energy
US disappointed Cambodia demolished second American facilityThe United States expressed disappointment Tuesday that Cambodia had demolished a second American-funded military facility without warning, as the ... World News
Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha freed from house arrestCambodia has freed opposition leader Kem Sokha from house arrest more than two years after he was arrested and charged with treason, but he remains ... World News
Turkish-Mexican national arrested in Cambodia amid alleged Gulen linksCambodian police have arrested the Turkish-Mexican former director of a school run by the movement of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who ... Middle East
Cambodian rescued after 4 days wedged in mountain rocksA man who became wedged between rocks while collecting bat droppings in the Cambodian jungle was rescued after being trapped for almost four ... Variety
Cambodia and Thailand reconnected by rail after 45 yearsA railway reconnecting Cambodia and Thailand was officially inaugurated on Monday in a bid to slash travel times and boost trade between the southeast ... Variety
Turtle power: Near extinct terrapins make Cambodian comebackTwenty critically endangered “Royal Turtles” were released into a remote stretch of a Cambodian river Friday, a species once feared ... Variety