THE government has given the green light to a joint-venture proposal to develop Boeung Tompun lake into a new residential satellite city, according to officials, with around 200 residents expected to make way for the project.
"A local company in joint venture with a foreign company has been granted in-principle approval to develop Boeung Tompun as a satellite city," Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema told the Post Tuesday, adding that he could not remember the name of the company or the value of the investment. "They do not have a shortage of money to invest, and everything is now on track. It just awaits approval from the CDC (Council for the Development of Cambodia)."
In an interview in September, Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong told the Post that the Boeung Tompun lake area - which encompasses Phnom Penh's Meanchey and Dangkor districts and Takhmao district in Kandal province - is a large natural catchment covering nearly 2,600 hectares, with about 200 families living on the lake, while many other people had purchased plots on or near the shoreline for resale.
When the project materialises, Kep Chuktema said that residents of the lake will be relocated and the resulting development would benefit the city.
"Between keeping it polluted and anarchic or development, we choose development if it benefits the economy and the majority of the people. But we know that the development will affect residents on the site, so we will resettle them properly," he said. "So far, those residents have no land titles, so we won't issue them land titles and we won't allow them to continue constructing anything on that area."
He added that the environmental impact of the development would be studied thoroughly due to Boeung Tompun's status as a natural catchment site.
Sok Chenda, secretary general of the CDC, declined to comment on the investment proposal.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann expressed concern that Phnom Penh will be troubled by increased floods if the lake is developed. "Boeung Tompun lake is the largest lake to store run-off from the city. If there is development, there will be a filling of the lake and the city will be subject to serious floods," he said.
He added that he did not expect that the residents at the site would be offered fair compensation for their removal from the site given past experiences of forced relocations and evictions.