Public forum was held on Thursday at the request of Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron to address the ongoing sand dredging operation along the Mekong river.Earlier on August 22, Naron called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to provide a solution to the sand pumping activity taking place in Kang Mead district, Kampong Cham province.
He stressed that the dredging went on despite there being an agreement between the authorities and the company which carried out the activity to stop pumping.
He said it had made people who live along the river banks uneasy about their houses being affected by possible erosion due to the nonstop sand dredging operation in the area.
At the forum, the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s secretary of state, Dith Tina, explained to participants that the sand pumping activity is intended to unclog the water current and divert it so as to not hit the river banks.
He noted that this was the reason why a company had been permitted to undertake the operation.
Kampong Cham provincial administration deputy director Peirm Sothearly told The Post that the participants have been informed and therefore came up with a consensus to allow the company to resume its sand dredging operation.
“The people accepted [the operation] and thus permitted the company, which has been granted a licence, to continue pumping, with a condition – it must adhere to Cambodian regulations on sand mining,” he said.
Noting Tina’s presentation on the benefits of sand dredging and the risks of it not being done, Sothearly said: “[The secretary of state] explained that the operation would not cause further bank erosion.
“It would instead reduce it. The ongoing erosion has been happening for a long time, even before the company started the operation.”
None of the forum attendees revealed the identity of the company.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability director San Chey said the presentation shared by the ministry’s representatives do not reflect what is really happening on the ground.
“The technical explanation is just an exaggeration, while the truth is that the company responsible for the activity, despite having a licence, does not follow proper procedures,” he said.