People living in Banteay Meanchey’s provincial capital of Sisophon are now banned from burying their relatives in the five mountains surrounding the town due to a plan to develop the area as an eco-tourist attraction, authorities said.
The ban, announced yesterday, is aimed at helping make the impoverished province more attractive to tourists, said Om Reatrey, Banteay Meanchey Provincial Hall spokesman.
“To improve the beauty of the environment and surrounding mountains, provincial authorities are cooperating with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Tourism to ban all digging in the mountains near Sisophon town, which will prohibit people from burying their dead and building stupas for their relatives, because the town needs to conserve and develop those mountains into an eco-tourism spot,” he said.
Reatrey added that companies developing the mountains for other purposes had also been banned from the area about a month before.
However, some Sisophon residents are unhappy about the move, saying it left them nowhere to bury their relatives during the rainy season when the fields are flooded with water.
“We want the authorities to find us a high place that won’t flood in the rainy season, or else people will not be able to bury the bodies traditionally anymore,” said Yort Sarom, 56.
In response, provincial spokesman Reatrey said that authorities are studying a location north of the town to create a new cemetery, although it has not yet been approved.