For the second time, villagers have urged the authorities to act against fake palm sugar producers who operated at night, causing pollution at their village at Lompong commune, in Bati district, Takeo province.
A Lompong commune villager who asked to remain anonymous told The Post on March 17 that authorities cracked down on the fake palm sugar production about six months ago. However, it started again during the night to evade the authorities.
He said that the producers are the same group of people as the last time.
“They produce fake palm sugar at night then transport it to middlemen at around 3am or 4am. The last time, the group burnt rice shells and charcoal now they are burning garments which spread the ash and black smoke to our water storage areas and affecting villagers’ health,” he said.
Another villager, Nhet Nop said over 10 factories have started producing fake palm sugar again but there has been no response from the authorities. He urged them to act immediately before the situation got worse.
Commune chief Chhe Soy confirmed to The Post on Tuesday that there were cases of fake palm sugar production in the commune. But, he claimed provincial authorities have released legal clearance certificates for the products.
“The authorities used to crack down and educate producers about the negative effects of producing fake palm sugar. But they have now applied for legal clearance certificates from provincial authorities to continue their business.
“They can produce the products due to an agreement made with authorities. I don’t know the specific ministry they have an agreement with. This means I have no power to intervene,” he claimed.
Por Leangkong, Takeo province’s Camcontrol chief said on Tuesday that he was aware of the situation. However, he said, night time production meant it was difficult for the authorities to intervene. He also said the local authorities were not cooperating with Camcontrol experts on the matter.
“We have cracked down on day time production of fake palm sugar already. However, without cooperation from local authorities, we alone cannot take action at night. I hope we can begin to cooperate as we want to prevent such crimes,” he said.
Leangkong said his officers had noted previously that substances which could be harmful to consumers were found at the producers’ factories. He said the substances could cause heart problems and high blood pressure.
The head of Takeo’s provincial Industry and Handicraft Department Ket Prong said on Tuesday that he hasn’t received any reports yet but officers would investigate.
“I want to clarify that the Takeo provincial Industry and Handicraft Department never released legal certificates to any producers that allow them to produce fake products. Doing so would be illegal. I will go to the exact locations and investigate the matter myself,” he said.
A former fake palm sugar producer who asked not to be named told The Post on Tuesday that his factory was closed last year and he is now a construction worker.
“I can tell you that the ingredients to make fake palm sugar are just candy, water, oil, seasoning and milk. If you mix the ingredients in the right proportion and bring it to boil, it begins resembles palm sugar,” he said.