Members of the community in Bou Sra commune, in Mondulkiri province’s Pech Chreada district, alleged that a tycoon and a government official have been dredging sand illegally.
However, the latter claimed that they are just “testing” whilst the permit is “being processed”.
Kreus Kven, the community representative, told The Post on Monday that the sand dredging operation is underway without a licence, with hundreds of trucks transporting sand out of the site every day.
“The company has been pumping sand for weeks with no permission from the local authority."
“When asked if they have a permit, they claimed to have it and that they are just testing,” he continued, adding that the operation has been running since mid-October.
The company, Kven said, uses sand pumping equipment, an excavator, and many vehicles to transport and distribute sand throughout the province and surrounded areas.
Environment activist Kreung Tola said the operation affects nearby Phnom Nam Lear Wildlife Sanctuary and the local people who rely on it.
“I, along with other people, asked them to stop [the operation], but they refused. I warned them that we would protest in front of the commune and provincial halls if they keep dredging sand,” he said.
Tola alleged that the operation is masterminded by Nork Ven, an official from the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection.
However, Ven denied the claim. He told The Post that he is the company’s “representative”, and admitted that it had yet to receive a permit to conduct the operation. But he said the application for the licence had been submitted.
Ven added that the company has only been “testing” for the last one month to find out if “the area can provide enough sand to future clients”.
On meeting with representatives of the community, he said: “I met people from the community and I will discuss this issue later. If the company finds that this area cannot sufficiently supply sand to its clients, it will stop the operation.
“The company is just testing … it does not even have a name yet,” he said.
San Darith, director of the provincial mining department, said he is aware of the operation and plans to inspect the site.
Meanwhile, commune chief Yeut Sarin and district governor Meul Soeun could not be reached for comment on Monday.