Owners of fish farms in Boeung Samrong lake located in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district have been ordered to leave by the municipal authority.
The Phnom Penh authority on Monday issued a notice ordering the owners of fish farms in the lake to move within “10 days from the date of letter issuance”.
The district authority said: “In the past, the lake was disrupted by a dam which made it drier and smaller. It could no longer be able to serve its functions. The authority hopes that everybody would work with the Phnom Penh administration to restore Boeung Samrong effectively.”
Prek Pnov district governor Huot Leap Piseth said farm owners are to follow the order accordingly.
“Owners who have big fish must sell all of it, whereas, for small fish breeders, they must contact Prek Pnov district authority to solve the issue,” he said.
Sub-decree 65 dated June 9, 2008, indicated that the 336ha Boeung Samrong lake, situated in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district, is state property. It has been under the management of Prek Pnov district authority since 2014.
Mech Sary, who owns a more than 20,000sqm farm, objected to the order. “I need more time because I don’t think I will be able to move 15,000 small fish in such tight deadline.
“Besides, I have spent 20 million riel [$4,977] for my farm . . . if the government could give me 20 million riel as compensation, I will walk away without protest,” he said.
Another farm owner who wished to be anonymous said his farm sits on private land that belongs to a private company which he declined to identify.
“My farm does not occupy the area that is covered by the sub-decree. Only people around the middle [part of the lake] are affected,” he said.
Sim Sophorng, Prek Pnov administration chief, told The Post on Wednesday that the authority will not postpone the 10 day deadline.
“Based on the survey, villagers acknowledged that they have been occupying the state’s property for many years. For the relocation plan, there are some issues . . . because their fish are small, they asked if they could wait until their fish get bigger.
“We won’t allow them [to stay any longer] because we need to restore the lake immediately,” he said.
Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng urged the people not to worry.
“We will work to prevent them from losing money, by identifying the cost of their farms, for instance,” he said.
Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun stressed that all natural lakes and rivers belong to the government and no one could claim them as personal property.
He applauded the municipal authority to preserve the lake but expressed worry that the government would sell the area to private developers.
“If the government claims the lake for preservation, I highly support that. But don’t take it and resell it to private companies,” he said.