Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology Lim Kean Hor has expressed worry about the ability to overcome floods caused by opportunists who fill-in lakes, rivers, canals and ponds.

He requested municipal and provincial governors to create measures to properly prevent these acts.

The ministry discovered negative actions like destroying public lakes, rivers, canals and ponds and filling them with soil. It also found people blocking waterways without legal documents, according to a Friday announcement for municipal and provincial governors.

Hor requested municipal and provincial governors to implement measures to prevent these actions.

The ministry request paralleled a report by NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) which requested the authorities to prevent the destruction of lakes and other wetlands in Cambodia.

“Lakes and wetlands in Phnom Penh have been removed almost entirely. If these acts continue as expected, the city and its surroundings will face serious flooding, causing the loss of fish, natural lakes, and the livelihood of local citizens,” the STT report entitled The Last Lake in Phnom Penh said.

Since 1990, 16 of Phnom Penh’s 26 lakes have been filled with soil while the other 10 have been partially filled.

The main reason lakes have been destroyed is to build gated communities, houses and satellite cities.

STT executive director Soeung Saran urged the ministry to further observe measures implemented by expert authorities and local authorities. He claimed the removals are related to the benefits of rich and powerful people.

“The ministry should show publicly the list of state properties on ministry websites, which would enable the public to know about the data of lakes and canals. It should encourage the public to report lake removals and give rewards to those who report them.

“There must be serious measures for the rich and powerful people destroying the lakes,” Saran said.