Almost 80 villagers who refuse to leave ancestral lands near the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam are facing floods again after officials closed the gates of the dam.
Phvot Kheun, 39, a local from Sre Ko village, said floods began again last Tuesday, but residents are still adamant they will not leave.
“Floods have been up to our knees since the dam gates were closed. We have been offered compensation and alternative housing but we don’t want to move. We will stay even if the floods threaten us,” he said.
Stung Treng water department chief Pang Peng said the floods are localised to Kbal Romeas and Sre Ko communes, close to the hydropower dam. The rest of the province is unaffected.
He attributed the floods to the closing of the dam gates.
“The floods came after the dam gates were closed, but the situation is not serious yet. Villagers must take care. If they refuse to move, they will suffer repeated floods,” he said.
Sre Ko commune chief Seak Mekong said the authorities are ready to evacuate villagers should their safety be at risk.
“Despite being offered a solution, they do not want to take it,” he said.
Speaking last month at the inauguration of the dam in Sesan district, Prime Minister Hun Sen said more could be done to encourage the last villagers to accept compensation and relocate.