More than 100 families in Phat Sanday commune in Kampong Thom province’s Kampong Svay district have demanded the removal of Agrostar Co Ltd from managing the Preah Kon Lorng canal in the district’s Kampong Kor commune’s Khasch Chiros village.

They accuse the company of failing to pump enough water for growing crops.

Phat Sanday commune chief Heng Mono told The Post on May 30 that in the past two to three years, the commune’s farmers have faced severe water shortages for irrigation. So, people have protested to the government.

Agrostar also no longer has permission to invest in the canal after the government issued sub-decree no. 197 which designated the land as a flooded forest protection area.

Mono said he did not know why the company still managed the canal.

“Hundreds of hectares of crops were damaged through lack of water over the past two to three years, and there is still no solution,” Mono said.

Agrostar has also convinced people from other villages to support the company and counteract the protests making the problem more difficult to solve.

“People have been protesting for more than a year for the government to take control of the canal. This area is state property and the company does not have the right to control it,” he said, adding that the government needs to step in to solve the issue.

District governor Un Bot said the provincial administration had co-invested with private companies in the canal since 2005. However, in 2010 the government cancelled the arrangement and designated the area as protected land.

Bot said that later people requested the land for farming, so the government issued notices 1044 and 1003 to allocate 4,460ha of land from the sub-decree to people.

However, investors opposed the allocation of land without reviewing sub-decree 197.

“There are two communes in this area, Phat Sanday and Kampong Kor, and 4,460ha have been allocated according to notices 1004 and 103,” he said.

Provincial governor Sok Lou said that he had not yet received information about the protest to remove Agrostar.

“As of this month, nowhere in the province is suffering water shortages,” he said, adding he would look into the matter.

The Post could not reach Sok Mony, owner of Agrostar Co Ltd on May 30.

But according to the provincial administration’s report, the company received a license from the provincial administration for growing rice on 1,600ha in Veal Boeung Muol and Veal Chek Dambang in Kampong Kor and Phat Sanday communes.