Doubts have been cast on long-standing plans for a 34-hectare dumpsite in Pailin’s Samlot Protected Forest following an inspection by the environment minister on Saturday.
The area, which is under the joint protection of the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP), was canvassed as a potential dumpsite by the Ministry of Environment in 2010. Since then, locals have cleared some 20 hectares of the land and begun to cultivate it for farming with the blessing of provincial authorities.
Ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap yesterday said that following the inspection, the minister has called for further research before the project would be approved.
“[We want to know] all the indicators affecting the decision before we can determine if the location is appropriate for dumping,” he said.
However, a ranger participating in last week’s visit, who wished to remain anonymous as he was not authorised to speak to the media, told the Post that the minister had instructed provincial authorities to find a new site as the mountainous terrain was unfit for the purpose.
“I heard with my own ears that the minister said he does not agree with it and told the provincial director of the department [Kem Sokha] to find a new place,” the ranger said.
But Sokha denied that the project had been ruled out and said in an interview that an evaluation was still under way together with the ministry.
“We want to know if and how it would work, which depends on the site assessment and environmental effects,” Sokha said.
The MJP was not available for comment yesterday.