A scheme to turn the river at Siem Reap into
a tourist attraction has come under fire for putting the livelihoods of
thousands of farmers under threat.
Following a decree issued by the
Co-Premiers HRH Prince Norodom Ranariddh and HE Sam-dech Hun Sen, the Ministry
of Tourism has ordered Crocodile Weir, near the town center, to open its
The move is intended to increase the flow of the Stung Siem Reap
and power waterfalls and waterwheels and return the river to its former glory of
But aid workers in three NGOs in the town say lower water
levels upstream of the weir will cause two irrigation channels to run low in the
dry season, ruining rice crops.
The channels supply a thousand hectares
of rice fields and over a hundred hectares of vegetables farms in four communes,
Chhreav, Sankat Siem Reap, Sankat II and Sankat IV.
The NGO workers, who
declined to be named, said there was even a possibility the lower levels might
threaten drinking water supplies from wells.
One said: " There is a risk
that there will be not enough water in February and March to finish the rice
crop, causing it to fail.
In the future it will probably mean the area
that can be cultivated in the dry season will have to be reduced."
Ministry of Tourism plan-ned to demolish the concrete weir, built during the
Khmer Rouge years.
Three thousand five hundred townsfolk labored for a
week on dredging the river last month after governor Tuan Chay appealed for
volunteers, saying the province had no money to pay for the work.