Complaint Filed Against Paper Plant

The Ministry of Environment has submitted a court complaint against paper plantation firm Green Rich Co Ltd for allegedly ig­noring ministry orders to cease oper­ations in Botum Sakor Na­tional Park.

Koh Kong provincial environment department Director Sao Sithourn said he filed the complaint in provincial court on Mon­day, and Koh Kong provincial Chief Prosecutor Keo Sim confirmed he had received it.

Keo Sim said the thrust of the com­plaint is that Green Rich constructed a road inside the land con­ces­sion without permission and cut forest outside the border of the con­cession area.

“Now we have all the witnesses, all the proof,” Minister of En­vir­on­ment Mok Mareth said in an interview Tuesday. “When we go to court, we show them also.”

Reached by telephone Wednes­day, Green Rich director Paul Yu said he is outside the country and would be in a better position to com­ment when he returned to Phnom Penh. He did not say when he expected to return.

Last year, Green Rich broke ground on a controversial 18,000-hec­tare eucalyptus and acacia plantation in the national park that was obtained through a government land concession deal in 1998. The project has provoked outcry from environmentalists be­cause in­dustrial developments are forbidden inside protected areas.

Operations were ordered suspended in May pending submission and approval of an environmental impact assessment to be prepared by Green Rich.

Mok Mareth accused Green Rich, which is related through common shareholders to global tim­ber giant Asia Pulp & Paper, of ignoring the order.

“The company never listens to us,” the minister said. “We advise them to stop but they continue to cut our trees. The company didn’t re­spect our law and our order.”

He said the assessment, which of­ficials say was submitted in August, is still being reviewed and should be available to the public in about two weeks.


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