AUTHORITIES in Kampong Thom say they are set to crack down on illegal sand-dredging operations in the province, after residents complained last week that one operation had caused a stretch of riverbank to collapse in Stung Sen district.
Nhek Kunthea, director of the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy, said he had not provided sand-dredging licences to any companies in the past year and warned of an impending crackdown on rogue operators.
“Currently, all of the sand-dredging companies in Kampong Thom are illegal because they are using expired licences,” he said. “We will fine them or file a complaint to the courts if they do not stop their wrongdoing.”
The crackdown is to come this weekend and will also target the Tung Kimla Company, which has been blamed for the recent riverbank damage.
Nhek Kunthea said his department would not provide a sand-dredging licence without a hydrology impact study (HIS) from the provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology.
Cheat Sivutha, the department’s director, said an HIS would be forwarded to the Department of Industry next month. He said the riverbank destruction was probably not caused by the dredging, blaming strong currents instead, but that Tung Kimla was likely operating illegally.
On Friday, around 400 families in Por Bakkor village in Stung Sen district filed a complaint about the dredging, requesting a halt to the operations, which they say led to riverbank damage in their village. “We have just asked the authorities to pay attention to riverbank collapses caused by the sand dredging,” said Pen Bopharath, 45, a representative from Por Bakkor village.
When contacted on Sunday, Tung Kimla, owner of the Tung Kimla Company, said he had run dredging operations in the province for many years and had never disobeyed a government regulation or order.
“I have a licence from the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy and from Water Resources,” he said, adding that they were obtained from authorities at the district and provincial level.