The environment minister has promised to investigate allegations that a tycoon-owned company is using a land concession to illegally log wood in a protected area in Preah Vihear province.
At a ministry forum on Wednesday, local residents and a representative of rights NGO Ponlok Khmer asked Environment Minister Say Sam Al to intervene to halt alleged illegal logging in the Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary by the Sam Oeun Sovan company, owned by Oknha Dy Duk.
Ray Bunthin, coordinator at Ponlok Khmer, alleged that the company – which has a licence to collect timber in a social land concession in Cheb and Chey Sen districts – was transporting illegally logged wood from surrounding protected areas to the concession to disguise it as “legal” timber. The company was granted permission to haul timber in the more than 4,000 hectare concession in April 2016.
“This forest is being logged daily,” Bunthin said. “Based on our inspection, there is no timber being collected from the social land concession, but the timber is brought from the Preah Roka forest and other protected forests.”
If the allegations proved to be true, Sam Al said, the perpetrators would face the courts. “If you have more information about this case, you can give it to me,” he said.
Sam Al added that he had repeatedly asked the Agriculture Ministry to stop granting licences for concessions. “Some areas were cleared and there is no more forest,” he said.
Duk could not be reached yesterday.