One million Cambodians under threat from development of vital wetlands – report

New sprawling development near Phnom Penh could prompt environmental catastrophe, including for the capital’s water systems.

The destruction of critically-important wetlands by politically-connected developers in Cambodia threatens to flood more than one million Phnom Penh residents, ruin the city’s wastewater system, force hundreds of families from their homes, and trigger environmental devastation, a new report has warned.

The sprawling Tompoun/Cheung Ek wetlands, just south of Phnom Penh, play a vital role in sustaining the Cambodian capital, acting as a natural store of 70% of its rain and wastewater and providing livelihoods for the more than 1,000 families who live, farm and fish in the area.

But a new report says that in 2004 developers, acting with government backing, began to gradually destroy the 1,500-hectare wetlands, filling them with sand dredged from the Mekong and Bassac rivers to prepare for the construction of a vast 2,500 hectare satellite city, dubbed “ING City”, the largest development in Cambodia.

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