Monday, November 26, 2012

Cambodia - Chinese sign deal on dam, villagers fear flooding

Chinese sign deal on dam, villagers fear flooding

Phnom Penh Post, 27 November 2012
By: Bridget Di Certo and May Titthara

The massive and highly controversial Lower Sesan 2 Dam project took a
major step forward yesterday with the inking of government power
purchase agreements and an investment deal between Royal Group and a
Chinese company.

But details about the contracts, their implementation or the fate of the
thousands of villagers who could be displaced by the dam remain shrouded
in secrecy.

Hydrolancang International Energy Co Ltd CHINA, a subsidiary of the
state-owned China Huaneng company, signed an investment Memorandum of
Understanding with Cambodian tycoon Kith Meng's Royal Group yesterday
for an initial two-year financial injection into the group�s Lower Sesan
2 hydropower dam project.

The planned dam has come under fire from groups such as International
Rivers, which has said the hydropower project would be one of the most
destructive in the Mekong network and the worst of the tributary
projects, wrecking havoc on fisheries and the river ecosystem.

Green groups have slammed the project for a lack of transparent
environmental evaluation and predict the anticipated hydropower dam will
likely flop and be unable to generate the promised wattage.

Key Royal Group representatives, including Kith Meng, refused to provide
any details about the MoU or the progress of the 400MW dam in Stung
Treng province at yesterday�s signing ceremony at Kith Meng's Hotel

The small and perfunctory signing ceremony with HIE was followed by the
inking of three agreements between government ministries and Hydropower
Lower Sesan 2, Co Ltd, the joint venture at the helm of the large-scale

During an address given to the approximately 80 government and company
representatives in attendance, Deputy Prime Minister for Economy and
Finance Keat Chhon, who presided over the ceremony, announced that 100
per cent of the electricity generated by the hydropower dam would be
consumed in Cambodia.

If, in the future, due to surplus generation, electricity was sold to
neighbouring countries, this would only ever be a small amount, the
minister added.

Representatives from the Vietnamese arm of the project were not present
during the ceremony.

Further details of the signed implementation, lease and power purchase
agreements were not discussed and government ministers present at the
ceremony declined to respond to questions from the media.

A bevy of Cambodian beauty queens and celebrities were trotted out to
the red-carpet signing, which businessmen and politicians toasted with
flutes of Moet champagne.

Speaking by telephone from his wooden, thatched-roof house in Srekor
commune in Stung Treng's Sesan district, wedged between the Sesan and
Srepok rivers, villager Seak Mekong said his community still had heard
nothing from the businessmen in Phnom Penh about compensation for their

Provincial Governor Loy Sophat and local authorities visited the Srekor
and Tra Kol communes on Sunday to inform the villagers that construction
of the project would begin in earnest early next year, Meach Mean of the
3S Rivers Protection Network told the Post.

The communes are slated to be flooded as part of the project.

"Most of Tra Kol community agreed to move about 15 kilometres away to a
heavily forested, jungle area and most of the Srekor community agreed to
move a long way away to an area beside a highway road," Mean said.

"The provincial and local authorities invited community representatives
to inspect the land from the end of this month until next year."

However, land titling, compensation and relocation costs were still up
in the air, as was the availability of electricity, water and
infrastructure such as schools and hospitals at the proposed relocation
areas, Mean said.

"The community agreeing to move is just a first step; there is still no
other information. I think at this stage no one can really say 'no'

For Seak Mekong and his fellow villagers, the lack of information
flowing to the public about the project created an omnipresent sense of
unease about their futures.

"I fear our living conditions will return to as it was in the Pol Pot
regime. We are so poor and we have no power against [the companies
building the dam]," Mekong lamented.


Cambodian, Chinese firms to jointly develop hydropower plant
Xinhua, 26 November 2012

Cambodian Royal Group and Chinese Hydrolancang International Energy on
Monday signed a joint- venture agreement to build a 400-megawatt
hydropower dam on Mekong tributary in Stung Treng province in
northeastern part of Cambodia.

The agreement was signed between Cambodian telecoms tycoon Kith Meng,
president of the Royal Group, and Huang Guang-ming, chairman of the
Hydrolancang International Energy.

Kith Meng said that the investment for the dam on Sesan River in Stung
Treng province's Sesan district was the first non- governmental,
multi-lateral project with shareholders from China, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Vietnamese company involved in the project was not present at the
signing ceremony on Monday.

Later, there was also a signing on the power purchase agreement between
the project company and the Electricity of Cambodia.

The deal was signed between Kith Meng and Keo Rottanak, director general
of the Electricity of Cambodia, under the witness of Cambodian Deputy
Prime Minister and Finance Minister Keat Chhon.

Under the agreement, the dam developer will sell all electric power
produced by the plant to the Electricity of Cambodia.

The Government of Cambodia approved the dam construction earlier this
month. According to the government's statement, the dam development is
under a joint venture among Cambodian, Vietnamese and Chinese firms with
the total investment of about 781 million US dollars.

It said that the project is a concessional contract of a 45-year
build-operate-transfer (BOT), of which, 5 years for construction and 40
years for operations.

It remains unknown when the construction will be started.

The statement said that when the project is operational, the government
will earn tax revenue of 29.6 million US dollars a year.

Stung Treng province is situated in northeastern Cambodia, some 481
kilometers from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

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