THE Cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen has rejected a recent request by 604 Boeung Kak lakeside residents requesting a halt to the filling of the lake for a construction project, reassuring them that the government is committed to providing “fair” compensation for displaced villagers.
The letter, issued by Cabinet Deputy Director Lim Leang Se on September 25, does not refer specifically to the filling of the lake, but said the government had granted permission for the company Shukaku Inc to develop the area as a commercial, cultural and tourism centre that would improve the city’s image.
Shukaku began filling the lake with sand in August 2008, in preparation for the 133-hectare development.
Lim Leang Se said on Thursday that City Hall had completely settled the compensation for villagers in Boeung Kak’s villages 2 and 4, and was gradually addressing the situation in nearby villages.
“[The villagers] can live as usual because City Hall has just finished with villages 2 and 4,” he said.
He expressed confusion, however, over a separate, September 14 letter from Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema to Hun Sen, a copy of which has been obtained by the Post, requesting a halt to the sand-filling operation.
“I don’t know how to respond to the [request] to halt the sand-pumping,” he said.
Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Boeung Kak village representatives said they were concerned that the sand-pumping was continuing, but were “very surprised” about the request from Kep Chuktema. “I don’t know why the governor wrote to the prime minister because the villagers did not make a request [to City Hall],” said Soy Kolab, from Village 6.