Illegal Drilling Charged Near Oral Resort Site

oral district, Kompong Speu province – A planned golf course and resort within the Oral Wildlife Sanctuary is moving ahead, though some officials say ob­served drilling is illegal and information about the project remains scarce.

A subcontractor has been drilling for weeks within the 1,900-hectare concession awarded for the development, though the company does not have legal authorization, said Oral district police Chief Dos Sim. “They don’t actually have a license yet, or permission from the relevant authorities,” he said last week. “By law it is not allowed.”

Workers of the Chinese developer, New Cosmos Development Company, were seen drilling as recently as last week. But contacted on Monday, Pen Sabon, Kom­pong Speu provincial Cabinet chief; Sok Born, director of the pro­vincial Industry, Mine and Energy Department; Soeung Bunthoeun, director of the provincial Environ­ment Depart­ment and provincial police all said that the company only drilled briefly more than three weeks before.

A New Cosmos employee from China who called himself Mich­ael said he was overseeing the drill­ing and would continue as instructed by his boss. Michael said he was not allowed to discuss the project, which according to preliminary plans, includes a manmade lake, folk village, theme park and upscale residential areas in addition to the golf course, resort and spa.

He directed questions to his boss in Phnom Penh, Fu Xian Ting, who has declined several requests for interviews and said in May his company would  hold a news conference when plans are finalized. The secrecy has worried environmentalists, concerned about whether the company will dam a local river for water and the fate of indigenous Suy minorities who live on the site.

 

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