To ensure public health and safety, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday signed a directive calling on relevant ministries, institutions and sub-national administrations to lead the charge on reducing air pollution in the Kingdom.
The directive said that measures carried out by the authorities to reduce emissions remained limited.
It also noted that an increase in fine particles of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) in size, caused by emissions from industrial plants, vehicles, forest fires and waste incineration, could threaten public health.
“Air pollution will only worsen if not managed properly,” the directive said.
Considering this, the directive instructed relevant institutions to manage air pollutants, and networks that monitor and forecast air quality and pollution level.
Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
However, he was quoted by Fresh News on Thursday as saying that the main source of pollution, which saw a sharp increase in PM2.5 in the capital during this year’s dry season, was caused by a variety of factors.
Seventy per cent was contributed by vehicle emissions, 20 per cent by dust from construction sites and concrete plants, and 10 per cent by the burning of garbage, dust on streets, and emissions from garment factories and others.
“To maintain healthy air quality, proper management measures must be taken in advance. Therefore, the Royal Government of Cambodia has issued a directive on air pollution prevention and control,” said Pheaktra.
Cambodian Youth Network vice-president Sar Mory, a firm advocate of forest conservation, praised the new directive.
With the increase in industrial factories built around the capital and the growing population, the directive could not have come at a better time, he said.
“If factories continue to be built in Phnom Penh, then air pollution would only worsen by the year. We see that the dust problem in Phnom Penh, as well as the stench of waste, affects the capital’s air quality. So, the government should pay more attention to these,” said Mory.
He also noted the lack of information disclosed by the government regarding the recently-begun construction of a coal-fired power plant in Sihanoukville. The government has also granted licenses to the Royal Group and a Chinese company to build coal-fired power plants in Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey provinces.
“Some developed countries across the globe have started to stop the use of coal energy as it strongly contributes to air pollution. But the Royal Government of Cambodia seems to be doing just the opposite,” he said.