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Filling of Boeung Kak lake halted

Filling of Boeung Kak lake halted

RESIDENTS of the city’s Boeung Kak lakeside said yesterday that city authorities had promised a temporary halt to the filling of the lake after parts of Srah Chak commune experienced chronic flooding.

According to lakeside representatives, Daun Penh deputy district governor Sok Penh Vuth made the announcement during an impromptu meeting yesterday after about 100 residents gathered in front of City Hall to protest the filling of the lake by a local developer.

Ly Mom, a representative for the lakeside community, said yesterday that “we are happy to hear that they have suspended operations to fill in the lake”.

But she said authorities should pay closer attention to the lakeside drainage situation so that villagers do not have to protest in order to express concerns.

“We still want to meet with [Phnom Penh Governor] Kep Chuktema because our houses are flooded, and we want to ask him when the city will issue land titles for residents,” she said.

Residents blame the flooding on a 133-hectare housing and commerical project planned for the site, which is being developed by Shukaku Inc, headed by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin.

Housing rights groups, which estimate that more than 4,000 families will be displaced by the project, said last week that the floods had prompted about 70 families to leave the lakeside, each accepting US$8,500 in compensation.

Ly Mom said that numerous lakeside children “have been getting sick” because of the flooding and “many of them have rashes on their skin”.

Ten-year-old Kim Chanrady, who held a photograph of Prime Minister Hun Sen at yesterday’s protest, said: “I beg Samdech Hun Sen to help me and my neighbours because we are living in disgusting floodwater.

“I am afraid of insects biting me, or that I might drown or be electrocuted because of loose wiring.”

Chhay Thirith, Srah Chak commune chief, said yesterday that Kep Chuktema had asked the company to temporaritly stop pumping sand into the lake.

“We have intervened to halt the filling, but still the villagers protested,” he said. Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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