Work crews demolished two more reservoirs in Kompong Thom province last week in the government’s ongoing effort to protect the area’s flooded forests from large-scale farming, officials said.
The work follows a June 21 letter from Tonle Sap Authority chairman, Water Resources Minister Lim Kean Hour, in which he informed provincial governor Chhun Chhorn that work crews would soon arrive to begin demolishing reservoirs in zones three and two, which cover the lake’s floodplains and the land immediately adjacent, respectively. Work crews finished demolishing the first 15 man-made reservoirs in the province, which had covered 3,600 hectares of floodplains, in early May.
Ky Sovannarith, chief of the Fisheries Administration’s local cantonment, said yesterday that work crews demolished two more reservoirs in Stong district on Friday and Saturday.
He said the crews would knock down all the reservoirs in zone three, where farming has been entirely banned, and sixty percent of each reservoir in zone two, where some flooded rice farming is allowed.
“It is the government’s measure to conserve the flooded forests,” Mr Sovannarith said.
Mr Sovannarith said he did not know exactly how many reservoirs would be demolished and that the government had not set a deadline for completing the work.
Hundreds of large reservoirs have sprung up around the lake in recent years as businessmen and wealthy farmers moved into its floodplains to convert local wetlands and flooded forest into irrigation reservoirs for large-scale rice farms.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered a halt to further agricultural expansion along the lake’s shores and the demolition of many of the existing reservoirs.
The government is also planning to declare 640,000 hectares around Tonle Sap lake a conservation area in the coming years to curb the large-scale destruction of the region’s flooded forests. A 2005 survey of the five provinces that surround the lake found that 700,000 hectares of flooded forest remained.
On Friday, about 100 villagers from Stung Sen city converged on the provincial capital’s government offices to demand that they be allowed to continue farming in flooded areas.