Gov’t Demolition of Tonle Sap Reservoirs Getting Under Way

Kompong Thom provincial officials over the weekend partially demolished dams at seven man-made irrigation reservoirs located in the Tonle Sap lake’s floodplains in the province, fisheries officials said yesterday.

The officials’ actions mark the start of the enforcement of a government order to demolish 16 man-made reservoirs covering around 3,600 hectares in Kompong Thom on grounds that the reservoirs damage the lake’s fisheries and its unique flood patterns and ecosystem. The owners had been given a government deadline, which expired Friday.

Ky Sovannarith, provincial fisheries administration chief, said in the coming days officials would partially destroy the dams of the nine remaining reservoirs slated for destruction in Kompong Thom.

“We will take about three days more to demolish the rest of the 16 reservoirs if no opposition occurs,” he said, adding today officials would meet with six reservoir owners in Baray district to discuss the removal of their reservoirs.

Stung Sen City governor Hok Rin said another three reservoirs remained to be destroyed in his area.

Mr Sovannarith said a joint working group, consisting of officials of the provincial departments of fisheries, water resources, environment and land management, had broken down parts of the dikes of seven reservoirs: three in Stung Sen City, three in Stong district and one in Kompong Svay district. He added that the owners of the seven reservoirs had all signed a document supporting the measures.

Fisheries Administration Direc­tor-General Nao Thuok said officials had knocked down 20-meter- to 30-meter-long stretches of reservoir dam in two places in each reservoir, in order to ensure a free flow of water during the rainy-season flooding of the areas. He added that this flow of water would erode the remains of the reservoir dams in a few years.

“Some owners are hesitant to demolish the reservoirs by themselves, but this is the government’s order,” he said.

The government’s planned demolition of the 16 reservoirs in Kompong Thom is supposed to be the start of the removal of hundreds of such reservoirs in the five provinces around the Tonle Sap.

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