Indigenous people fighting for their culture in Cambodia

In the far northeast of Cambodia, the forest is disappearing. On my first visit there, I expected to see thick, dense forests everywhere. Instead, most of the land has been cleared for large rubber and cassava plantations. The remaining forests are central to the daily lives of the local people, their livelihoods and culture. But foreign mining companies are failing to respect the rights of local communities, with important implications especially for indigenous people and their land.

Mekong nations to set up EIA working group

In the statement released today, the Mekong Regional Technical Working Group for EIA brings together governments, civil society organisations (CSOs), and will expand to cover private sector and EIA experts to improve regional cooperation for effective EIA policy and practices. The group aims to reduce the social and environmental impacts of regional infrastructure projects, particularly as the upcoming Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) Economic Community further hastens trans-boundary investments.

Phnom Penh's evictees sick as rubbish piles up

Evictees of Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community appealed yet again to municipal authorities for alternative housing yesterday, saying garbage and waste has inundated their current settlement and is making it increasingly difficult to enter and exit the area.

Borei Keila residents were evicted from their land on January 3 last year as Phan Imex employees, backed by local authorities, demolished about 300 homes.
Many have lived in tents at the site ever since.

Gem miners ordered to halt excavation by Cambodian gov’t

The Pailin provincial governor has ordered a gem-mining firm to stop excavating land in a conservation area, local officials said yesterday. According to Lim Bou, chief of Boya-kha commune in Pailin town, local authorities received the order after it came to light that a firm was illegally mining in the Samlaut Protected Area.

“The firm’s mining exploration causes bad pollution of water that affects villagers and the environment. [And] its [mining] licence has expired,” Bou said, reading from the letter.

More Lao dam deals inked

Laos has contracted firms to build and operate another significant hydropower plant on the Mekong River system, adding to the existing furore over potential effects on downstream countries such as Cambodia from the controversial Xayaburi dam.

The contracts, reportedly worth $1 billion, are for a series of three dams making up the Xe-Namnoy plant on two tributaries of the Se Kong River, which flows into the Mekong from the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos – just some 100 kilometres from Cambodia.