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Apsara dismisses canal concerns

Machinery used to excavate clay sits near a storage building in Siem Reap province last month
Machinery used to excavate clay sits near a storage building in Siem Reap province last month. The Apsara Authority has denied allegations that the local brick industry is threatening an Angkorian-era canal. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Apsara dismisses canal concerns

The Apsara Authority on Tuesday issued a letter denying recent allegations from an archaeologist that brick-making activities along an Angkorian canal are threatening the survival of the site, maintaining that local brick makers haven’t taken clay from the historical channel since 1980.

Last month, archaeologist Thuy Chanthourn, deputy director of the Institute of Culture and Fine Arts, said that brick makers in Siem Reap’s Sotr Nikum district had been digging up segments of the 120-kilometre channel – which was once used to ferry building materials to Angkor Wat – and that they had built kilns on dams there, causing “unacceptable destruction”.

In its letter, however, the Apsara Authority maintained that the provincial Industry Department had banned such excavation in 1980, and that the brick makers now get their clay from a company that excavates it from the bottom of a lake, and by buying and excavating farmers’ rice fields.

“So, so far, there are not any kiln owners digging up the ancient channel for making bricks anymore,” the letter says. “The Apsara Authority is never careless about destroying the temples or ancient areas that are located under the control of the Apsara Authority and outside the Angkor area.”

Chanthourn, however, continued to maintain yesterday that he had “clear evidence for this erasing of the Angkorian-era canal”, and said he was disheartened by the Apsara Authority’s response.

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