Even as the enormous Lower Sesan 2 hydropower dam project speeds toward reality, villagers to be displaced by the project remain in the dark about what preparations have been made for them.
Compensation and resettlement arrangements for villagers both involuntarily and voluntarily relocated from their homes and land are at the heart of land disputes across the Kingdom, however the Cambodian government has made no firm steps toward a unified policy on relocation.
“We wish these things to be sorted out between the people and the company,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told the Post this week.
“We [the government] don’t want to interfere, we want to give the right to the company developer and the people to agree [on compensation arrangements],” Siphan said.
Cambodia’s constitution stipulates that a person may only be deprived of his or her ownership of land where it is in the public interest, in accordance with the law, and where fair and just compensation has been provided in advance – a position replicated in the 2001 Land Law.
However rights groups say that a lack of unity or clear guidelines at a national level make it impossible for two of the three criteria to be fulfilled.