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Battle over river in Svay Rieng

Battle over river in Svay Rieng

Authorities in Svay Rieng town are ignoring locals’ complaints over a Chinese firm that has allegedly been filling in a river in preparation to build a canal, villagers said yesterday.

More than 130 families in Svay Teu commune, Svay Rieng province, have delivered petitions to provincial Cambodian People’s Party lawmakers, filed a lawsuit in the provincial court and held protests since work at the site started in January, they said.

Sok Tan, a villager from Svay Tue, said that Chinese-owned company Taing Mengleang had bought 100 hectares of land in the commune, but villagers had not been told the purpose of the project.

“They told me that they will build a canal to replace the river, but the villagers disagreed since the canal is smaller than the river and there is no fish,” he said, adding that they had submitted complaints to, among others, Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An and CPP lawmaker Duong Vanna.

“I saw the officials inspect the site, but nothing has happened.”

Another villager, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the company had nearly filled in the whole river without objection from local officials.

“This case, no one seems to be working on it, even though we tried to file complaints to many places. The commune chief grew angry with us since we began to protest,” he said.

The CPP’s Sam An and Vanna and company officials could not be reached yesterday.

Yu Bunny, Svay Rieng provincial governor, denied the villagers’ accusations, saying no work had begun at the site thus far.

“The people protest, but the company has only worked on the lands that it has bought and nothing has happened to the river,” he said. “The company does not dare to fill in the river because the Ministry of Water Resources has not decided. The river is intact right now.”

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