The Mirror: Article: Ho Vann: Dredging of Soil to Fill Boeng Kak Lake May Cause Phnom Penh Flooding

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 541

“Shukaku Inc., which got a concession for the Boeng Kak Lake area of 133 hectares in Srah Chak Subdistrict, Daun Penh District, has been preparing to connect a pipe to dredge sand from the Tonle Sap River opposite the Royal Palace to fill Boeng Kak Lake, in order to build a trade center. This makes a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian concerned that it could make the river embankment constructions and some buildings along the riverside areas collapse into the river, like some houses and the land of some citizens in Koh Norea Village, Nirouth Subdistrict, Meachey District in Phnom Penh, collapsed in December 2007.

“The Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian Ho Vann from Phnom Penh expressed his concerns to journalists on 2 January 2008, that the dredging of sand from the river to fill the Boeng Kak Lake will cause an impact, like the dredging of sand by the Sok Kong company in Koh Norea Village, Nirouth Subdistrict, Meachey District, which caused some houses and some land of citizens along the Mekong River to fall into the river, and it also destroyed the property of these citizens.

“The Parliamentarian Ho Vann stated that before allowing Shukaku Inc. to dredge sand from the river to fill 133 hectares of Boeng Kak Lake, the Ministry of Meteorology and Water Resources, which is managed by Lim Kean Hor, the Ministry of Environment, which is managed by Mok Mareth, as well as other relevant institutions must join together to study carefully the impact on the environment, if this company dredges sand to fill Beong Kak Lake, leaving only 10 hectares of the lake’s surface, in order to guard from damages like what happened when the Sokimex Company dredged sand from the riverbed in Koh Norea Village to an area of more than 100 hectares of Boeng Snao Lake, which caused the collapse of land and houses of citizens in Koh Norea Village.

“Mr. Ho Vann told reporters that the impact of the dredging of sand to fill Boeng Kak Lake could cause Phnom Penh to be flooded, because the whole lake will be filled, leaving only 10 hectares of its surface, and it will cause sewage problems in neighborhood areas, because there are not enough sewers; moreover, in the rainy season, small water reservoirs in some subdistricts in Russey Keo District had caused some houses of citizens to be flooded.

“Mr. Ho Vann continued that the Phnom Penh Municipality, which is managed by Kep Chutema from the Cambodian People’s Party, must discuss this clearly with the citizens – approximately 4,000 families – living at the Boeng Kak Lake area to find a solution, whether Shukaku Inc., which wants to develops the Boeng Kak Lake area, will also bring benefits also the citizens in any way. The Parliamentarian Ho Vann continued that to maintain good relations and the confidence of the citizens, the Phnom Penh Municipality and Shukaku Inc. must issue formal letters, providing housing to all citizens, so that they are not worried any longer. The dredging of soil to fill the lake makes many citizens lose their business of picking vegetables growing in the lake water, of fishing, and of growing some other crops on this Boeng Kak Lake area.

“Mr. Ho Vann shared his opinion about the Phnom Penh Municipality that it should not have given a concession for 99 years to Shukaku Inc. to develop the Boeng Kak Lake area, that the Phnom Penh authorities should have sold 10 hectares of land along the railway to Shukaku at $2,000 per square meter and that the municipality would have received $200 million to develop the Boeng Kak Lake area without causing any impact on the environment. He went on to say that the signing of the contract to develop the Boeng Kak Lake area for 99 years could turn the whole Boeng Kak Lake area in future into property of Shukaku Inc., and the company could manage to sell land to private companies at high prices.

“Mr. Ho Vann called the signing of the contract to grant the concession of Boeng Kak Lake to Shukaku Inc. seriously corrupt, involving senior officials in the government and in the Cambodian People’s Party, who do not think about the public interest and the impact on the environment. This huge development plan was not publicly announced so that other private companies could have participated in the bidding for the development of the Boeng Kak Lake area. He continued that even Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, who demanded many times to see the contract with Shukaku Inc. which invests in the Boeng Kak Lake are, demanding to see the master plan for the development of this area – but the Phnom Penh Municipality did not allow them to do so, but told the parliamentarians to first ask for permission from the Ministry of Interior.

“Shukaku Inc. belongs to Yeay Phou [Grandmother Phou, Chheung Sopheap, the director of the Pheapimex company] and her husband Lao Meng Khin, who advises Prime Minister Hun Sen on international affairs, and who suggested to cooperate with a Korean company, asking for an investment license in the Boeng Kak Lake area on 133 hectares, with a lease contract for 99 years at a price of more than $70 million. This price of the lease is considered by economists to be very cheap; moreover, the contract was signed quietly and secretly between the Council of Ministers, the Municipality, and Shukaku Inc.

“The citizens, who live in the Boeng Kak Lake area, had opposed this development plan by Shukaku Inc. many times , but they did not get any result, and now the company is connecting the pipes to dredge sand from the Tonle Sap River opposite the Royal Palace to fill the Boeng Kak Lake, by laying the pipes across the railway station into the Boeng Kak Lake, without studying the future impact on the environment.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #85, 3.1.2008

Tags: cambodia,eviction,housing,property

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