A 131-hectare lake, located close to the center of Kompong Cham town, has been awarded to a local developer who has begun draining it in preparation for residential and business development, the province’s governor said Monday.
Governor Hun Neng, the brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, said that Chhan Thary company of Kompong Cham province started draining Boeng Snay Lake in mid-December after receiving final approval from the prime minister.
No bidding process was instituted for the contract because, Hun Neng said, only one company, Chhan Thary, was interested in filling in the lake despite the financial potential.
The local company, for which Hun Neng said he does not have a telephone number, will spend $5 million to $6 million draining and filing in the lake, he said. The process will take more than one year, he added.
“We need to enlarge the city. We expect more people will move to live there because it will be developed into a big market, residential houses, parking lots and office buildings for sale,” Hun Neng said by telephone.
“We are going to keep 18 hectares out of the total lake to be natural beauty in the city,” he said.
In return for being awarded the lake, the company will give 40 percent of the land created to the government for administration buildings, schools, hospitals and other facilities, Hun Neng said.
The draining of the lake has sparked concerns that this may increase flooding in Kompong Cham town, though Hun Neng dismissed those fears, saying that the nearby Bassac lake will be able to absorb excess water.
On Nov 30, the government created a joint commission to study the effect of the lake’s disappearance on the local water supply and the flood plain.
Land Management Minister Im Chhun Lim, with Hun Neng as a vice-chairman, heads up the joint commission.
Khat Bun Srim, SRP provincial party council member for Kompong Cham, said locals have complained that the government did not talk to them about the project.
SRP leader Sam Rainsy said that the deal lacks transparency, and that local residents should have been consulted before the deal was awarded.