Gov’t Allowed Firms to Partially Fill in Lake

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.”

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