Pumping Continues Unabated

Oct. 9, 2010. While most of Cambodia celebrates the Pchum Ben national holiday by paying respects to their ancestors, Shukaku Inc. relentlessly continues pumping sand into Boeung Kak lake.

What used to be the last restaurant in the southern part of Village 1 is now but a few poles in a dune, while abandoned houses, previously homes, are inundated by sand. There is now also water in between the access road to Village 1 and the railway.

Sand levels lie several metres above remaining houses, even covering parts of the railway track along what used to be the lake’s western shore. Poles presumably marking the boundary between the Shukaku Inc. lease area and the railway lie less than 3.5m from the centre of the tracks, in what could be a violation of the railway’s Corridor of Impact (COI) which stretches 3.5m on both sides from the middle of the track, as well as its Right of Way (ROW) which stretches 20m both sides of the track in Phnom Penh. Both the COI and the ROW form part of state land, though there have been rumours Toll and the Royal Group, which are set to run the trains and have a lease on railway land, have made independent deals with Shukaku Inc. to determine the boundaries of their respective concessions.

In Village 24 on the lake’s eastern shore, few homes remain on the lake. Remaining residents say their neighbours who were offered US$8500 have already dismantled their homes and left, while those offered only US$1000 have few options but to stay. For how long, they don’t know.

Though the pumping of sand and water into Boeung Kak can be publicly verified, it is no longer possible to tell how much water is being drained out of the lake, as a tin fence has been erected around the sluiceway.

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