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Dredging plans raise concerns in K Cham

A woman stands by eroding land, allegedly caused by sand dredging, in Kampong Cham province last week
A woman stands by eroding land, allegedly caused by sand dredging, in Kampong Cham province last week.

Dredging plans raise concerns in K Cham

Kampong Cham authorities met with concerned villagers on Friday over a proposed sand-dredging project that some fear could lead to the collapse of their riverbank.

More than 220 families living on the riverbank in Tamieng village thumbprinted a petition delivered to provincial authorities requesting that authorities halt dredging plans by the Heang Chantha Company.

Heang Sokkhim, the group’s spokesperson, said yesterday that in some areas homes are only 4 metres from the river’s edge, and that if sand is removed from the centre of the river, she fears soil will shift downward from the sides, prompting a collapse. “If the riverbank collapses, who will compensate us? How could the company afford to compensate over a hundred houses?” she asked.

Em Kimsuo, Kampong Siem district deputy governor, who attended Friday’s meeting, claimed the sand dredging would actually help improve water flow and therefore prevent a riverbank collapse. Kimsuo added that sand dredging helps to earn more income for the state, which can then be reinvested in the community.

UN and Singaporean data, however, show that almost $750 million worth of sand exports to Singapore is unaccounted for, leading some to blame corruption, and prompting a National Assembly commission to question Mines Minister Suy Sem on the subject last week.

The Heang Chantha Company could not be reached.

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