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‘Eviction of fish farms in Boeung Samrong lake won’t be delayed’

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Fish farms in Boeung Samrong lake in Prek Pnov district. Pha Lina

‘Eviction of fish farms in Boeung Samrong lake won’t be delayed’

The eviction of fish farms in Boeung Samrong lake in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district will not be delayed, authorities have said, urging farm owners to accept the compensation offered by the government.

A notice was issued on January 14 ordering around 302 families of fish farmers to vacate the premises within “10 days from the date of letter’s issuance”.

Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng told The Post on Wednesday that “the government guarantees compensation for any loss that the fish farm owners might suffer”. He also stressed that the eviction will not be postponed.

“The authority cannot allow them [fish farmers] to delay [the eviction process] any longer. They have been occupying a state-owned property. Now I need to restore the lake, [therefore], they must leave their farms and I will pay compensation to cover any loss,” Sreng said.

The eviction, he noted, is part of the government’s efforts to restore the function of the 336ha lake as a flood storage area.

Sim Sophorng, Prek Pnov district administration chief, said on Wednesday that about 50 per cent of the evictees had agreed to move out and that his administration had instructed the farmers to leave on several occasions.

He said that “the authority will not be responsible for any damages [caused to their farms] during the process of restoring the lake”.

Sen Mab Sal, one of the evictees, explained why some of the farmers were reluctant to abide by the notice, saying: “The lake is currently at low water levels . . . it is affecting the growth of our fish.”

Speaking to The Post, he appealed for the postponement of the eviction for another year until their fish gets big enough to be sold at the markets.

“If the local authority doesn’t provide any solution, I will have to complain to higher authorities, maybe at the municipal level,” Mab Sal said.

Soeung Saran, the director of urban NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), called for coordination between the government and fish farmers to work towards “a reasonable solution that is acceptable for all involved parties”.

He lauded the authority’s good intention to preserve the lake and to provide compensation.

“The process needs to be transparent and accountable . . . The authority should involve all relevant parties in order to come up with an acceptable solution,” Saran said.

Sub-decree 65 dated June 9, 2008, indicated that Boeung Samrong lake, then situated in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district, is state property. It came under the management of Prek Pnov district authority, in Phnom Penh, since 2014.

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