THE health and well-being of more than 1,000 families from the Boeung Kak lakeside is under threat from “deliberate flooding” by a local company that is filling in the lake to make way for a controversial development, rights groups said.
“The continued pumping of sand into the lake, and the inefficient drainage measures, indicates the flooding is a deliberate measure to increase pressure on residents to move away,” Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said in a statement issued Friday. He said the flooding exposed residents to “health hazards and conditions not fit for living”. “Children and women were affected with itchy skin and other illnesses because of the polluted water,” he said yesterday.
David Pred, executive director of Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, said in the statement that exposing children to sewage-laden water was “a particularly repulsive tactic” on the part of the developers.
Residents blame recent flash floods on a 133-hectare housing and commercial project being developed by Shukaku Inc, a company headed by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin.
Housing rights advocates say that more than 4,000 families will ultimately be displaced by the project.
Sok Penhvuth, deputy governor of Daun Penh district, said yesterday that recent flooding and poor sanitation had prompted “hundreds of families” to accept US$8,500 in exchange for agreeing to leave the lakeside.
“We hope that other residents will subsequently decide to volunteer to relocate,” he said.
Men Sokha, chief of Village 22 in Srah Chak commune, one of the areas affected by the project, said that around 100 families from his village had decided to accept the $8,500 compensation payout, and that a smaller group had accepted 4-by-10-metre apartments in Dangkor district.
Heng Mom, a resident of nearby Village 22, said Shukaku should pay the residents a fair market price for their land.
“We want to continue living in our home,” she said.
“However, I will relocate as soon as possible if the company pays my family between $30,000 and $40,000.”