Vientiane Times, 18 September 2013
Xekong provincial authority has relocated hundreds of people from villages to be affected by the planned development of the Xekong 4 dam, a senior provincial official has said.
Residents of two of the four villages that need to be relocated have already moved into new homes in the province’s Kaleum district, Head of the provincial Integrated Rural Development Office, Visaem Xayseuksa said.
He said residents of the two other villages will be moved at a later date.
Expenses for the relocation and its related activities are being financed by the state budget given to each province to finance the government’s initiative of grouping small scattered villages into bigger communities – an initiative aimed to aid development.
Since the work to develop the project has not yet started, compensation from the investors has not been received either.
“However, the provincial authority decided to go ahead with the relocating of those to be affected,” Mr Visaem said.
“Once the project starts to be developed, the investors are expected to compensate the displaced villagers.”
Houses in the new area have already been built to accommodate the newcomers with the province providing zinc roof panels and other equipment. The villagers have also been provided with food necessities. Officials admitted cultivation plots had not yet been cleared and developed for the new arrivals’ crop growing activities.
But Mr Visaem said 61 hectares of land had been earmarked to be developed as cultivation plots to be handed over to the newcomers who had already moved into their new homes.
“We have already submitted the plan to the higher authority to seek a funding source,” he said, admitting that funds are limited.
In addition to the 61 hectares, Mr Visaem said more land will need to be cleared and developed to accommodate those yet to move in from the remaining two villages still to make way for the Xekong 4 dam.
In 2005-2006, Region Oil Company of Russia and the Lao government signed four memorandums of understanding to develop three hydropower projects – Xekong 4, Xekong 5 and Nam Kong 1 – with a combined estimated investment of about 12 trillion kip (US$1.5 billion).
In June 2008 and June 2009 Region Oil signed project development agreements with the Lao government in relation to the proposed dams.
In February this year, the Russian company signed off on a joint development agreement with EGAT International Company Limited of Thailand in Vientiane to join forces on developing the three projects.