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Green law to have sharp teeth against loggers

Green law to have sharp teeth against loggers

LOGGING companies - at present under no legal obligation to protect the

environment - will be forced to do so after the striking of the new Environment

Law.

Once the draft environment law has been passed by the National

Assembly the way is paved for the implementation of more specific green laws,

including the Environmental Impact Assessments Law (EIA).

In the EIA

logging companies will be forced to take more responsibilities for their

operations and criminal sanctions will be put in the law for grave environmental

sanctions, Environment Minister Mok Mareth said.

Mareth said that unless

strong measures to protect the country's natural resources were taken logging

could cause great damage to the environment such as deforestation, flodding and

drought.

Strict and strong laws for government officers guarding the

logging consessions should also be implemented to make them understand and

respect their profession, he said.

In the 1960s, Cambodia had forestry

laws that ensured government officers showed strict discipline to their

concession. They were demoted or imprisoned if illegal logging occured in their

concessions, he said.

The minister said his ministry had finished a

draft environment law designed to protect its natural resources which would

build the foundation of further legal framework for the environmental

sector.

A lack of transparency over the government's policy on logging

and the granting of a 60-year logging concession to Sarawak-based Samling

Corporation covering 800,000 hectares or four percent of the entire country, has

raised serious concerns about environmental degradation.

"In order to

protect public health and welfare, protect and enhance environmental quality and

ensure sustainable development" special sub-decrees will be made for air, noise,

vibration and water pollution and for solid wastes.

Under a chapter

entitled Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, the draft proposes that

the government assess the impact on the environment caused by the "development,

use, and management of each natural resource."

Gregory Woodsworth, of the

International Development Research Center, which acts in an advisor capacity to

the Cambodian government on environmental issues, said the draft was reasonably

good.

"It's an umbrella-piece of legislation designed to define the

overall management and responsibility of the ministry. The draft should be seen

as a starting point and not a true piece of legislation," Woodsworth said.

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