Stung Treng authority agrees to Bunong request

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

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.

However, the authorities are still considering requests and conditions laid down by villagers from Sre Kor village.

Stung Treng provincial hall spokesman Men Kong told The Post on Tuesday 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.

Kong said 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.

“Seeing that their requests and conditions were appropriate, authorities and the company have accepted them. We are constructing a road leading to the new location where they are residing."

“We are also digging a pond and delivering supplies for the construction of a school and a health centre for them,” he said.

Kong said provincial authorities are preparing up-to-date documents to register their land collectively.

Meanwhile, Kong said authorities have yet to grant the requests of the 73 families from Sre Kor village that have rejected compensation from the government and the company.

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

But Kong said the villagers are not of ethnic origin but rather Lao-Cambodians whose father or mother is Laotian and therefore cannot be registered as an ethnic community.

The villagers also requested the authorities and the company to build new houses for them on a new location they have chosen in the Tuol Sre Tbeng area.

Each family has also demanded no less than $50,000 in compensation for damages to their houses and crops caused by flooding due to the opening of the dam’s floodgate when it went online last year.

“The authorities will continue to strike out a compromise for them. If their demand for compensation is reasonable, we will reconsider it."

“But it wouldn’t be possible to include them in the official list of ethnic communities because they are Khmer-Laotian people,” he said.

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 in September last year, 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.