Phnom Penh (AFP) – A rights group on Tuesday urged the United Nations to help prevent the displacement of thousands of people, mainly from ethnic minority groups, by a $780 million China-backed dam.
Their plea came a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen said the economic benefits of a series of controversial dams outweigh environmental concerns in a country where a quarter of the population still lacks electricity.
Around 5,000 people – mostly from marginalised indigenous groups – could be displaced by the planned 400-megawatt Lower Sesan 2 dam on a tributary of the Mekong River in the northern province of Stung Treng, said the 3S Rivers Protection Network (3SPN).
Villagers are already “being pressured and intimidated into agreeing with the surveys and the proposed resettlement plans”, the network said in a statement.
“Thousands of people’s lives will be devastated and destroyed by this project,” according to Meach Mean, coordinator of 3SPN which is backed by foreign and local groups.
“Despite its severe impacts, there has been no transparency in the decision-making and no real consultation with the communities in order for them to express their concerns.”