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Banteay Meanchey villagers protest against pumping of water from drying pond

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More than 20 families from Thma Puok district’s Phoum Thmey commune in Banteay Meanchey province have expressed their objection to a request made by a local drinking water company to pump water from a drying communal pond. Photo supplied

Banteay Meanchey villagers protest against pumping of water from drying pond

More than 20 families from Thma Puok district’s Phoum Thmey commune in Banteay Meanchey province have expressed their objection to a request made by a local drinking water company to pump water from a drying communal pond.

They alleged that the firm had failed to live up to its promise.

The company, Mey Kimsok – named after its owner who is also the manager, made a contract with the community three years ago, agreeing to conserve the reservoir by closing the dam and excavating the water body to increase its depth and maintain water supply, district governor Dieb Chhuoun told The Post on Sunday.

However, the company denied ever making a written contract with the community. “We just had verbal communications with them when we started our business,” Mey Kimsok himself explained.

“The company has already placed a [pump] hose [in the pond], which is why the residents protested. They did not allow the company to take water out of there,” Chhoun said, noting that he had a meeting with the families one day earlier, during which they opposed the firm’s request.

Following the protest, Chhoun said, he inspected the site and ordered the company to stop pumping water from the reservoir which used to measure 100m x 100m and is six metres deep.

“But now the depth of the pond has decreased to 1.50m, with some parts even measuring only half a metre deep,” Chhoun said, adding that up to 800 families had used the reservoir.

Phoum Thmey commune chief Bun Veasna told The Post that his team had never issued any letter to allow the firm to carry out with its intention.

“The families still protested even though the hose was placed far away from the reservoir,” he said.

Veasna said Mey Kimsok had set up the device to anticipate for when their request to pump water would be approved.

“But since no solution has been reached, the company agreed it would retract the hose off the reservoir.”

Kimsok said the pond had never dried out before and that he promised to carry out an excavation.

“When it began to dry out, our [water] supply became insufficient. Therefore, we went to the commune and district chief to coordinate with the residents to find out whether or not pumping water was the right thing to do. If it is not right, we would just find a way to dig a well,” he said.

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