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Dam removal sparks hunger fears

Dam removal sparks hunger fears

About 300 families in Siem Reap town have complained that many of them could face starvation after authorities destroyed a temporary dam used to store rainy season water to irrigate rice fields later.

Aing Sar, 22, a representative of Kokchak commune’s Kokthnaot village, said officials from the Apsara Authority destroyed their small one-metre wide by 10-metre long dam within Baray Teuk Thla last Friday. They had constructed it each year since 2005.

“Every year the villagers build a two-metre high dam for storing water for dry season rice farming as authorities never used to prevent us,” he said, adding they had been given no reason from the Apsara Authority as to why it had destroyed the dam.

“But the Apsara Authority destroyed the dam, leaving the 200 families to starve next year because they don’t have water to farm rice,” he said.

A senior official of Apsara Authority, who declined to be named, said the dam was not permitted yesterday because Baray Teuk Thla was a national heritage site recognised globally as the largest man-made pond in the world.

“The pond is within Baray Teuk Thhla, a high-level protection area,” he said, adding that his colleagues had previously been careless in protecting the site.

Tat Bunchhoeun, director of the Siem Reap provincial Agriculture Department, said he was not aware of the issue.

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