Stung Hav district authorities in Preah Sihanouk province have removed soil that was dumped into the sea along the coast to create new land in an area without authorisation and are working to determine the identity of the responsible parties.
District governor Chhay Sokunda told The Post on March 29 that unknown persons had illegally dumped soil into the sea, filling in 2,400sqm at a location in Village 4 of Otres commune in early March.
“We haven’t been able to identify them yet. The perpetrators may not be local residents living in Stung Hav district,” he said.
Sokunda said his administration would investigate to bring the offenders to court.
Environmental activist San Mala urged authorities to search for the identity of the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“If the authorities really want to find them, the perpetrators would not be able to escape. The soil dumped there was not just 10 or 20 trucks of dirt, but hundred of trucks. So, they couldn’t hide this from the eyes of the villagers or authorities,” he said.
In a similar case, Koh Kong provincial authorities has issued a one-week ultimatum to a woman identified as Leang Him to remove soil she has used to fill in a creek and mangrove forest in the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary. The soil has partly been removed but the work is not yet complete.
Deputy provincial governor Sok Sothy told The Post on March 29 that Him had admitted to dumping soil into the protected creek and mangrove forest covering a surface area of around 3,300sqm. She promised to remove it all within one week.
“The provincial administration has found that she is actively removing soil from the area. But because she has just one excavator, she could not fulfil the agreement on time. So we gave her another week to clear all the soil and replant mangrove trees,” Sothy said.
Him could not be reached for comment.
Kim Sophem, chief of Tuol Koki commune in Mondul Seima district, said Him’s workers had tried to purchase mangrove trees from local communities in order to plant them in the area but they could not find them because mangrove trees are mostly planted in July or August.