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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen again calls for sand export ban, study of impacts

Hun Sen again calls for sand export ban, study of impacts

Hun Sen again calls for sand export ban, study of impacts

090702_05.jpg
090702_05.jpg

PM repeats May ban request, saying he doesn't want history to hold him responsible for the environmental effects of dredging.

Photo by: Sebastian Strangio

Koh Kong province for export earlier this year.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has again announced a ban on the export of sand in an attempt to protect the country's rivers and marine areas from the environmental degradation caused by sand dredging.

"All sand business must be shut down," Hun Sen said during a speech in Kampot province Wednesday.

"I raise this issue in order to warn experts not to make business from sand, which can have a destructive impact on nearby areas."

The prime minister's announcement reiterated a statement in a letter he sent to the relevant ministries on May 8, ordering them to halt all sand-export operations pending proper environmental studies.

But as in his earlier order, Hun Sen said sand dredging will still be permitted in areas where the damage to the environment could be minimised.

"I am afraid that history will put the blame on me for the sales that will have a destructive impact on our islands," Hun Sen added, appealing to the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy to join hands to study the impact of sand operations.

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand from the Kingdom's rivers and coastal areas have been dredged and shipped to Singapore, for use in land reclamation.

In March, the Post reported that the Hong Kong-based Winton Enterprises Co Ltd was removing thousands of tons of sand each week from estuaries in Koh Kong province, a practice that environmentalists said was having severe effects on the local environment.

Indonesia and the Philippines are among the countries that have banned the practice because of its destructive impact on riverbeds and shorelines.

Pech Siyon, Koh Kong provincial director of Industry, Mines and Energy, said Wednesday that three local sand-dredging companies had postponed their business, but that the LYP Group, the  local partner of Winton Enterprises, had acquired permission to fulfill the remainder of its export orders.

"All companies have temporarily halted their activity and await the re-approval of the proper ministries," he said.

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