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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Farms threatened by tourist scheme

Farms threatened by tourist scheme

A scheme to turn the river at Siem Reap into

a tourist attraction has come under fire for putting the livelihoods of

thousands of farmers under threat.

Following a decree issued by the

Co-Premiers HRH Prince Norodom Ranariddh and HE Sam-dech Hun Sen, the Ministry

of Tourism has ordered Crocodile Weir, near the town center, to open its

gates.

The move is intended to increase the flow of the Stung Siem Reap

and power waterfalls and waterwheels and return the river to its former glory of

the Sixties.

But aid workers in three NGOs in the town say lower water

levels upstream of the weir will cause two irrigation channels to run low in the

dry season, ruining rice crops.

The channels supply a thousand hectares

of rice fields and over a hundred hectares of vegetables farms in four communes,

Chhreav, Sankat Siem Reap, Sankat II and Sankat IV.

The NGO workers, who

declined to be named, said there was even a possibility the lower levels might

threaten drinking water supplies from wells.

One said: " There is a risk

that there will be not enough water in February and March to finish the rice

crop, causing it to fail.

In the future it will probably mean the area

that can be cultivated in the dry season will have to be reduced."

The

Ministry of Tourism plan-ned to demolish the concrete weir, built during the

Khmer Rouge years.

Three thousand five hundred townsfolk labored for a

week on dredging the river last month after governor Tuan Chay appealed for

volunteers, saying the province had no money to pay for the work.

 

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