Cambodian govt denies sand-dredging caused riverbank collapse at temple
THE Ministry of Mines and Energy denied on Monday that sand dredging caused a riverbank to collapse in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district, which damaged several stupas at a temple.
The ministry’s reaction on Monday came after some residents in Veal Sbov commune pointed to sand dredging as the cause of the collapse.
About five stupas were damaged when the riverbank at Kdey Takoy temple collapsed on Saturday, which prompted families to rush to the temple to remove their loved one’s ashes for fear that they would fall in the Mekong River.
The ministry on Monday published a video denying that the riverbank collapse was caused by sand dredging along the river.
“Sand dredging is one kilometre away from the site,” a ministry official said in the video. “The riverbank collapse is due to heavy rains that fell onto new landfill, making the land loose and causing the riverbank to collapse.”
Environmental activist Meng Heng said he believed the riverbank collapsed due to sand dredging.
“The river bank collapse was not caused by nature but by sand dredging,” Heng said.
Yon Sophal, Veal Sbov commune chief, said the riverbank has stabilised since officials came to examine it and used sandbags to prevent more erosion.
She added, “Before it collapsed, it was raining heavily, and the land was just filled in a year ago.”
Sophal said that the collapsed area along the river was filled in because people needed to build more stupas to hold the ashes of loved ones.
Sour Chon, a member of the Kdey Takoy pagoda committee, said the ashes have all been removed from the stupas.
“It is very difficult to contact some families because they live far away, so the pagoda decided to remove all the ashes from the stupas,” Chon said. “Some families came to remove the ashes themselves. Now there are no ashes left in the stupas because we were afraid they would be lost to the river.”
A woman who refused to be identified said that residents believe the riverbank collapsed because of sand dredging.
“We saw boats dredging sand in this area. We thought that one day the riverbank will definitely collapse. Now it has,” she said.
Another villager who was watching the riverbank on Monday said officials usually deny that sand dredging causes such collapses.
“They say it is natural erosion, but we always see boats dredging sand in this area,” he said. – Khmer Times