Mining Irks Spirit, Lessens Rain, Villagers Say

A spirit in Ratanakkiri province has retaliated for damage from a mountainside marble quarry by withholding rain and damaging crops, ethnic Kreung hill tribe villagers said yesterday.

Klien Klay, chief of Kabak village in Kon Mom district’s Teun commune, said yesterday that scant rain was now falling after a mining company cut down a 50-meter peak last month, angering the spirit.

“We want the company to stop cutting the rock for two months so that the rain will come,” he said, adding that a half-hectare of rice he had planted had failed to grow due to a lack of rainwater.

“In the past, we have never had a lack of rain like this,” said Kong Pheap, another villager.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the human rights organization Adhoc, said yesterday that he had received a complaint from the community asking that the mining operation be halted.

Provincial governor Pao Ham Phan said yesterday that the company, Ratanak Taiphong, was licensed to operate on 65 hectares at the location in question.

“The investment was approved by the government,” he said but referred further questions to Ay Vanthan, director of the provincial department of industry, mines and energy, who declined to comment.

Soy Sona, director of the provincial agriculture department, agreed that rains had been insufficient so far this season.

According to Mr Ham Phan, the mining company is part-owned by Kham Phean, wife of CPP-lawmaker Bou Thang. Contact information for Ms Phean was unavailable yesterday.


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