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Local government halts lake filling

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Siem Reap provincial authorities inspect the reclaimed site of a natural reservoir in Trav Kod resort. Three companies have been ordered to reverse the reclamation. Photo supplied

Local government halts lake filling

Siem Reap provincial authorities have stopped three companies from illegally filling in a natural reservoir in Trav Kod resort.

The province’s deputy administration director Sok Thol told The Post yesterday that the three companies had filled in the 30ha lake and built wooden cabins on the reclaimed land without permission.

“They have been ordered to dredge the soil out of the reservoir within a week,” said Thol.

He said the identities of the three companies cannot be revealed yet as his team plans to discuss the matter with the owners to resolve the problem. “We are inviting [the companies’ owners] to decide on further measures,” he said.

Thol noted that the development took place following the announcement of land sales by some traders in Phnom Penh.

He advised people to be cautious before buying land plots in the area. He claimed some companies are not legal and are unprincipled.

“[The land sales] are illegal. The sellers just divide the land into plots and sell them without legal transfer or property rights. [To acquire the plots], buyers are told to pay half as a deposit. Once the business is done, [the sellers] flee the scene,” he said.

Siem Reap provincial environment department director Nuon Mony said the company owners had been invited to the provincial hall to sign some agreements. But, he too declined to reveal the companies’ names.

However, he noted: “One company just started filling, another has just finished and the last one has even built cabins. They do not have permits for their work.

“When we went there to investigate, we only met the workers who were hired to do the filling. All of the owners are in Phnom Penh.”

A representative of a human right group, Suos Narin, said Trav Kod resort is built on state-protected land which has no certificate.

“There’s no document that proves land ownership,” he said, expressing wonder at why some companies can claim ownership despite some ministries having designated the land as a protected area.

“The Fisheries Ministry officials have released fish into the reservoir. Therefore, it is a protected site in the first place. Companies cannot fill [the reservoir],” he said. Narin said he suspects collusion by the authorities.

A villager who lives around the area said a number of private companies have been, for some years, controlling the land around the reservoir and reclaimed it. They previously did not have legal papers. But now, many have full control of the land with a certificate proving ownership.

Trav Kod resort is located in Brasat Bakong district, around 92km from Siem Reap centre. The natural lake is surrounded by lush green forest, attracting many tourists.

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