VILLAGERS in Kampong Thom province’s Santuk district say their rice fields have been flooded after a Khmer Rouge-era irrigation project was appropriated by the government last year as part of a tourism project.
Residents say the decommissioned dam, known as the Prampi Makara Dam, allowed them to flush water in and out of their rice fields depending on their agricultural needs.
“My land was flooded, the same as other people’s land. I would like the authorities to reopen the dam so that water can flow normally, like before, and people can replant rice on their land,” said Loeng Pork, a resident of Santuk’s Boeung Lvea commune. Thousands of families in Santuk’s Boeung Lvea, Ti Pou, Kraya and Kampong Thma communes have been affected by the dam’s closure, he added.
Vog Limheng, another local resident, said his 3 hectares of rice paddy have been flooded since the dam was shut.
“I don’t know why they shut down the dam, because now thousands of hectares of farmland are flooded,” he said. “If I was paid some compensation, I would not be disappointed, but we have heard nothing from the government.”
Santuk district governor Pich Sophea, however, said that the affected land was state public land and thus was appropriated legally for the development project.
“This is the government’s project – it is public land,” Pich Sophea said, adding a “guarantee” that he would provide land for any villagers who come forward and request it.