Satellite City Planned for Choeung Ek Lake

The Phnom Penh Municipal Authority held an open meeting Tuesday to announce that it was discussing plans with a Cam­bodian company to develop a 2,572-hectare, $38-million satellite city around two lakes on the city outskirts.

A government directive distributed at the meeting named ING Holding as the company that would develop the lakes in Mean­chey and Dangkao districts.

“The government has agreed in principle to develop Tumpun lake and Choeung Ek lake…to become a green satellite city,” read the directive, which was dated May 24 and signed by Council of Ministers Secretary of State Seng Lim Nov.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said at Tuesday’s meeting with ING representatives at City Hall that the company and the municipality have been studying a master plan for the new development. Kep Chuktema stressed that the government had agreed “only in principle,” adding that ING must study potential impacts of the development before construction can begin.

“The company must study the social and environmental impacts on those areas,” Kep Chuktema said. “Choeung Ek lake and Tum­pun lake are essential for Phnom Penh’s drainage system.”

The governor added that the development would not involve filling in either lake.

“Do not do like Long Chhin,” he warned ING, referring to the Chinese-owned company whose filling in of Kob Srov lake led to the removal of the Kandal provincial governor and two of his deputies as well as the demolition of several buildings erected at the site.

Lim Bun Sour, chairman of ING Holding, said during the meeting that the company will assess the potential impacts on those living in the area designated for the development project. He added that the company will construct a proper water drainage system.

Kep Chuktema said the municipality had informed residents around the lakes not to buy or sell property in the area designated for the satellite city until a proper land ownership survey can be completed and a compensation plan negotiated. He said he did not know how many people would be affected by the development or when construction would begin.

Municipal Land Management Director Chhay Rithy Sen said more than $38 million will be invested in the satellite city, which will cover 2,572 hectares broken down into zones for housing, business and entertainment. A 9,038-meter-long “Samdech Hun Sen Boulevard” will be built connecting Street 271 in Meanchey district and National Road 2, he added.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said he was concerned about the potential effects of the development and feared many people would be displaced. “The lakes belong to the state. They’re supposed to be for public use, not for private development,” Son Chhay said. “All of these developments will create more landless people,” he added.

Son Chhay said he was concerned that the development might come too close to the Choeung Ek “killing fields” memorial, the most well known mass burial site of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. “Choeung Ek must be preserved in its original form as much as possible,” he said.

Chuor Sok Ty, general manager of Choeung Ek memorial, said he was unaware that a development was planned near Choeung Ek lake, but added that the city had banned the construction of buildings within 500 meters of the “killing field” that are higher than the memorial stupa at Choeung Ek.

Deputy Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong said he was unsure how close the development comes to the memorial site, but said it would not have an effect on it.

  (Additional reporting by Joe Tarr and Van Roeun)


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