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Authorities specify 30 reservoirs for removal

OFFICIALS from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology have informed the owners of around 30 unauthorised reservoirs around the Tonle Sap lake in Kampong Thom province that they have until Friday to demolish the structures.

Chan Yutha, a spokesman for the ministry, said Tuesday that a total of 164 manmade reservoirs had been built in “prohibited areas” in Kampong Thom, and that 30 were earmarked for removal on June 25.

“We have set June 25 as the deadline for the private owners to destroy these illegally made reservoirs, but we have about 30 excavators standing by to dismantle them if they fail to meet our deadline,” he said.

He said the Tonle Sap Authority ordered the dismantling of the reservoirs last week, after setting a boundary around the fringes of the lake marking the first area to be cleared of illegal reservoirs, which can be used for irrigation.

Kampong Thom provincial Governor Chhun Chhorn said that in April, fisheries officials demolished 15 manmade reservoirs surrounding the Tonle Sap lake and turned one privately owned reservoir over to a community.

Nao Thuok, director general of the Fisheries Administration, said that the illegal reservoirs covered an area of about 20,000 hectares nationwide and pointed out that their absence would help make local fisheries more sustainable.

Mak Sithirith, executive director of the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said private reservoirs that do not benefit local communities should be demolished, but that any dams built for community fisheries should be spared.

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