Residents of Siem Reap province criticised the flow of sewage polluting Siem Reap River on Thursday, saying it negatively impacted the environment and ruined the Kingdom’s reputation.
Khin Vandy, who lives along the Siem Reap River, told The Post on Thursday that the sewage comes from vendors at nearby Por Langka market, hotels and large businesses.
He said the sewage is affecting the Siem Reap town’s image as well as its people’s health, adding that the issue is long running and authorities have not intervened.
“People used to live further upstream, but were ordered to move to a different location due to [the land being subsidised]. They all moved away from the area. No one lives there anymore."
“They said that when villagers lived in the area, the river was dirtier, and that they’ve removed the mess. But, now, the large hotels are bringing it back in, wealthy people and market vendors are bringing [pollution] back,” Vandy said.
Another villager, who wished not to be identified, told The Post that the villagers are worried about the issue because of changes in the area, as well as authority’s inactivity in protecting and preserving the river which he considered a historical location.
He wanted the authority to take action and restore the river to its former state – not only during major national holidays, saying the authority must regard the river as a regular tourist destination.
“I’m worried that the river isn’t clean. It is located right in a tourism destination area that attracts many visitors – near Phsar Chas market. We see the river in a state of disrepair,” he said.
Siem Reap Provincial Hall spokesperson Ly Samrith could not be reached for comment. Siem Reap town governor Nuon Putheara could not be reached for comment. However, on Wednesday, he told local media that he had ordered a team to look into the issue, who will initially work with the market owner.
“First of all, we need a master plan from the provincial authorities, with assistance from NGOs, to help in the cleaning and elimination of water sewage,” he said.
One provincial officer, who wished not to be named, told The Post that the issue of sewage flowing into the river was being looked at. As it is currently the dry season, when the river is low, it exposes sewage, which badly affects the atmosphere and produces a rancid smell.
“The sewage does not merely come from hotels, but also from vendors from Por Langka market, which was closed down. Maybe the sewage came from people who live in the area. The project to clean the river is costly, and the government needs funding from partner NGOs and their research,” he said.
Chan Chamroeun, a provincial coordinator for human rights NGO Adhoc, said it was time that provincial authorities tackle the issue as it impacts the tourism sector in the area.
“I implore the relevant authorities to focus on the environmental issue and improve the city for the tourism sector. We can see that regulations for cleaning the town are not being paid attention to. You cannot just keep pouring sewage in without cleaning more of it out,” he said.