One of Phnom Penh’s largest lakes has been partially filled in by two private firms, which were granted government permission to do so, Russei Keo district Governor Khlaing Huot said Thursday.
Khlaing Huot, whose district borders the 157-hectare Bong Pong Pey, identified the firms as Suon Kamnoen Company and Anco Brothers Company and said they have been allowed to fill in 32 hectares and 48 hectares respectively.
Filling in the lake could flood local communities, Khlaing Huot warned.
“I express deep concern about the lake. When the water rises there is no storage basin,” Khlaing Huot said. “I would like to appeal to all people who buy land there that the district will not issue them land titles.”
Khlaing Huot did not say what transaction had taken place to allow the firms to fill in the lake, nor did he mention how the newly created land would be used.
The reported filling in of the lake follows reports earlier this month that state-owned police buildings and hospitals have been discreetly sold or swapped with private firms.
Rights groups have called for the government to make public the transactions behind such sales and exchanges. Kek Galabru, founder of rights group Licadho, said Thursday that the country’s lakes should not be sold.
“A lake belongs to the state, to the city of Phnom Penh,” Kek Galabru said. “One day they’re going to sell the Mekong—They’re going to sell the whole of Phnom Penh.”