Kandal provincial authorities stopped a sand dredging company from digging near the century-old Koh Andet pagoda in Ang Snuol district yesterday due to a lack of official permission and fears of structural damage to the pagoda.
Ang Snuol district governor Samuth Thoeun said he had prevented Yusokuntheary Company from further digging on the 21 hectares of land owned by the pagoda in Kraing Mkak commune because the company did not have permission from provincial authorities.
“This company cannot [dig near] that pagoda because they do not have a permission letter from the Ministry of Water Resources and the provincial governor,” he said.
He added that local authorities had had a meeting with a committee of pagoda representatives and monks to set up boundaries on the pagoda’s land.
“We don’t want to have conflict with monks – we should let them live quietly,” Samuth Thoeun said.
Suon Koeung, a member of the pagoda committee, said monks had not given their consent to the environmentally destructive dredging operation.
“If we allow the company to dig up the sand to sell, it will affect our water supply,” he said. “It could also cause the pagoda collapse in the future.”
He added that pagoda was constructed over 100 years ago on land near a stream, but because the monks have no money to set up fences, the land appears unclaimed.
Seang Rim, another pagoda committee member, said that representatives from the company had claimed that they had permission from authorities.
“The land has good sand, so all of the businessmen want to take it over, but they do not care about the impact on the pagoda,” he said.
Yusokuntheary company representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday.