Sihanoukville Municipal Governor Say Hak said on Monday that he has ordered the destruction of a villa owned by the head of the municipality’s Mittapheap district land management office, alleging that it’s polluting the water supply of Sihanoukville.
Say Hak said he has given Khat Bunnar one week to dismantle his home, accusing him of releasing wastewater into the lake, which supplies fresh water to the entire municipality.
“Premier Hun Sen ordered me to remove it,” Say Hak said. “If [Khat Bunnar] refuses to remove it by himself, then other actions will be taken.”
The lake holds 600,000 cubic meters of water, Say Hak said.
He also charged that Khat Bunnar built his villa on the edge of the lake without permission from the municipality.
“The land around [the lake] cannot be touched,” Say Hak said. “The whole city is using this water.”
Contacted by telephone on Monday, Khat Bunnar confirmed he had received Say Hak’s order, but he said that he has not yet taken any action to knock down his home.
“I will not remove my house,” he said, adding that he is waiting for the results of an interministerial committee’s investigation into the case before taking action.
“I am living here with permission from City Hall,” he added.
He said he built his lakeside villa in 2002, on a plot of land 50 meters wide and 98 meters long.
Khat Bunnar said about 200 other families also live around the lake and claimed it was unfair that authorities have targeted his home.
Say Hak, however, charged that Khat Bunnar was setting a poor example for villagers.
“He is a land officer, but he owns the wrong land,” he said. “If we can live there, then other people will follow.”
Say Hak added that if Khat Bunnar does not level his house within a week, he will order municipal authorities to knock it down. He also said that he will take no responsibility for the damage.