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Govt delays reservoir destruction

Govt delays reservoir destruction

THE government has delayed plans to destroy 16 manmade reservoirs built by farmers in Kampong Thom, villagers said, giving a year’s reprieve to families still reeling in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana.

Kim Sokhen, a representative of the farmers from Kampong Thom’s Baray district, said Sunday that he and the other farmers have been told the government will postpone orders to dismantle the reservoirs until next season.

“We are very happy with the rice crop in this dry season,” Kim Sokhen said.

Farmers in the district were hit particularly hard earlier this year as Ketsana ripped through the region, destroying thousands of hectares of rice paddies in the province and jeopardising food supplies.

The farmers said they have maintained the reservoirs for years to supply their fields with water in the dry season.

Government authorities, on the other hand, warned that the reservoirs, dug into swathes of forested floodplain, could harm fish habitats and spawning grounds.

Ou Boss Phan, director of the Agriculture Department in Kampong Thom, said he supports the government’s overall plan to destroy the reservoirs.

“We know that some of the reservoirs are impacting local fisheries,” he said. “The government needs to destroy any reservoirs that have serious impacts on fisheries and keep those that provide benefits to both the farmers and the fish.”

Ou Boss Phan said he hoped local farmers will destroy the reservoirs themselves after this season’s harvest is complete.

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