PM Encourages Officials To Keep Up Efforts To Protect Tonle Sap

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday urged officials to continue to carry out his orders to demolish man-made irrigation reservoirs around the Tonle Sap lake as part of the government’s ongoing effort to protect the floodplains and flooded forests on the lake’s periphery.

Officials said yesterday they had completed dismantling another five reservoirs around the Tonle Sap last week and were making rapid progress on demarcating a protection zone for the lake’s flooded forests.

The Council of Ministers said in a statement that during its weekly meeting Mr Hun Sen told officials that the Ministry of Agriculture, the Tonle Sap Authority and provincial authorities needed to cooperate and carry on with the removal of the dozens of irrigation reservoirs that have been built in recent years.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that the prime minister had “encouraged the authorities, especially local authorities in the six provinces, to keep checking if the reservoirs are being destroyed.”

“These reservoirs are not proper,” he added. “It damages the fish and water flow regime.”

Tonle Sap Authority Secretary-General Chan Youttha said another five reservoirs had been demolished and four more had been downsized.

Mr Youttha said 29 reservoirs had been destroyed since April. He added that the reservoirs, which are used to irrigate large-scale commercial rice farms in the dry season, covered one square kilometer on average.

He said officials expected to complete the zoning and marking of 640,000 hectare of the lake’s floodplains for conservation of flooded forest by July 25.

Last month the government designated this area to be protected, as the forests are important wet season habitats for the lake’s rich fisheries.

Battambang province deputy governor Sieng Sothang said only one reservoir remained to be destroyed in his province, while his officials had finished demarcating 220,000 hectares for protection last week.

“We are carrying out Samdech [Hun Sen]’s order very seriously. We need to protect the flooded forest,” he said.

Cheat Syvutha, director of the Kompong Thom provincial water resources department, said he expected officials to finish demarcating 128,000 hectares of protected forest in his province on Tuesday.

Last week the Tonle Sap Authority announced that research using aerial photography had found that around 160,000 hectares of flooded forest had been destroyed since 2005, when the forests covered around 700,000 hectares.

            (Additional reporting by Paul Vrieze)


Related Stories

Latest News