Polluted Provincial River Linked to Illnesses

In recent months, residents of Battambang town who drink or bathe in the Sangke river, which runs through the city, have fallen ill with skin diseases and diarrhea.

Sin Thol, 29, of Battambang dis­trict’s Chamkar Samroang com­mune, said his three children contracted scaly rashes after bath­ing in the Sangke.

Another villager, Soth Thy, a 37-year-old noodle seller, says he is losing customers because people don’t dare eat his home-made noodles, which he prepares with river water.

“I want the provincial authorities and the government to solve the problem of the polluted wa­ter,” Soth Thy said.

Villagers and officials say raw se­wage from residential areas of wes­tern Battambang town is re­leased directly into the Sangke, cau­sing the river to become mur­ky and rank.

Last week, Chhay Yuob, director of the provincial Environment De­partment, said he visited the town’s sewage treatment plant in June and saw raw waste flow into the Sangke river.

The provincial Public Works Department releases polluted wa­ter into the river because it cannot afford petrol to pump sewage to the treatment area in Chamkar Sam­roang commune, Khan Ma­nnea, the department’s deputy director, said Monday.

The problem is especially bad on rainy days, said Buth Kim­sea, another deputy director at the department.

“During the heavy rains, we must release it into the Sangke river otherwise the town will be flooded for a few hours,” he said.

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