The Takeo provincial Environment Department on Monday warned authorites would take legal action against a senior police official in Koh Andet district who tried to use a vehicle to clear land illegally in the protected lake Boeung Prek Lapouv.
Chhoy Munly, who heads the provincial Environment Department, said a senior police official in Koh Andet district, San Rotha, recently used the vehicle to excavate land illegally in the protected area.
He claimed that he was building a main canal that would ease the flow of water from the natural lake to the rice fields and crops belonging to 200 families in Prey Khla commune as the families usually faced water shortages during the dry season.
“But we have discovered that it is not done in the farmer’s interests but for private purposes, because he owns a clean water business and he wants to get the water from the protected lake,” Munly said.
According to Munly, Boeung Prek Lapouv is the last protected area for rare bird species in the southwest province of Cambodia. He also appealed to farmers and relevant authorities to jointly protect and prevent crimes such as forest clearing, land dredging and water pumping in protected areas.
San Rotha, Koh Andet district deputy police chief, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
However, Hin Sokhon, a representative of 200 families in Prey Khla commune, said they are preparing a petition seeking direct intervention from Minister of Environment Say Sam Al.
They want the minister to facilitate the process of developing a canal system to obtain water from Boeung Prek Lapouv to irrigate their farms and rice fields during the dry season.
“If there is a construction of a main canal that can bring water from Boeung Prek Lapouv, farmers in the whole of Prey Kla commune will become better off because we can grow rice at least twice a year,” Sokhon said.
According to Sokhon, farmers and some relevant authorities sought permission to develop the irrigation system by constructing one main canal connecting to Canal 98 and Boeung Prek Lapouv, which will eventually connect to the Tum Lorb reservoir.
If approved, it would ease crop watering during the dry season. The environment department, however, rejected the request, claiming that it would affect the biodiversity of the protected area."