Families Living on Lake Accused of Polluting

Kompong Chhnang provincial environmental officials are asking local authorities to remove and re­locate Vietnamese living on Tonle Sap lake because they allegedly are polluting it.

More than 3,000 families living on the lake have been “throwing waste” into the water and “don’t understand the dangers of diseases,” provincial environmental de­partment official Peou Bun Than said.

“I don’t want them to live on the water because they can pollute the environment,” he said Tuesday. Many of the families do not want to leave their homes because they have lived there for a long time, he said.

Kompong Chhnang provincial Governor Sou Phirin said he will ask local authorities to remove the families from the lake’s banks, but said it would be done legally.

He said if the people are here legally, the government will offer them land. He said families here illegally will be deported.

Touch Naruth, Kompong Chhnang provincial police chief, said he is registering the people living on the lake and will send the list to the Ministry of Interior. He said he will request the Minis­try to remove them.

In November 1999, Phnom Penh authorities forcefully re­moved an estimated 350 families from the Monivong Bridge area of the Bassac river. At the time, the move was criticized by the Viet­namese government, which feared for the safety of the families. At the time, Phnom Penh authorities accused the Vietnam­ese of being illegal immigrants and of polluting the river.


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