Ac­tivists urge P’Si­hanouk au­thor­i­ties to re­store beach

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Voun Dara

SOME 10 en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists from Phnom Penh uni­ver­si­ties have urged Preah Si­hanouk provin­cial au­thor­i­ties to re­store the part of Prek Treng beach which a pri­vate com­pany filled in Septem­ber, while the gover­nor claimed the firm had al­ready been or­dered to do so.

The ac­tivists warned that if the au­thor­i­ties do not re­store the beach, they will do it them­selves.

The land­fill­ing, in Vil­lage 4 in Stung Hav dis­trict's Otres com­mune, was done by a com­pany be­long­ing to Choe­ung Sopheap, bet­ter known as Yeay Phu, who is the wife of rul­ing party Se­na­tor Lao Meng Khin.

In a video posted on Face­book on Fri­day, the ac­tivists claimed the beach re­mained in the same con­di­tion and no ac­tion had been taken to re­store the area. They said the au­thor­i­ties had failed to act on a pre­vi­ous or­der from Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen.

“To­day, en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists filmed a video clip for Preah Si­hanouk provin­cial au­thor­i­ties for the sec­ond time.

"If the provin­cial au­thor­i­ties con­tinue to fail to take ac­tion against the com­pany owned by Choe­ung Sopheap, known as Yeay Phu, that re­claimed the land at Prek Treng beach, we will in­spect the area one more time and [then] per­son­ally re­store the beach our­selves,” it said.

In Septem­ber last year, the prime min­is­ter or­dered Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Chea Sophara, who is also Min­is­ter of Land Man­age­ment, Ur­ban Plan­ning and Con­struc­tion and chair­man of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee on Coastal Area Man­age­ment and De­velop- ment (NCCMD), to in­spect the area.

He also or­dered provin­cial au­thor­i­ties to de­mand the com­pany im­me­di­ately re­store the beach to its orig­i­nal con­di­tion.

Provin­cial gover­nor Yun Min told The Post on Sun­day that after Sophara's in­spec­tion, au­thor­i­ties had or­dered the com­pany to re­store the beach.

“The beach fill­ing in Prek Treng took place in two stages. The first stage hap­pened in 2000, while the sec­ond phase oc­curred in 2018. After Min­is­ter Chea Sophara’s in­spec­tion, the com­pany re­stored the filled beach.

“The land [filled in 2000] was com­pletely re­stored. That land was owned by [the com­pany] since 1998-2000 and the trees they planted [when they re­stored the area] have now grown big­ger.

“I re­ported to Chea Sophara al­ready re­gard­ing this is­sue. You can re­lay this in­for­ma­tion to the en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists. As gover­nor of the prov­ince, I al­ready or­dered them to re­store the land,” Min said.

Pheng Sreysor, the ac­tivists' rep­re­sen­ta­tive, told The Post their in­spec­tion of the site re­vealed that the beach had not been re­stored, but the com­pany had at­tempted to cover the re­claimed area with sand, so it looked like a nat­u­ral beach.

“Noth­ing has been re­moved or re­stored. How­ever, our group has no­ticed a strateg y in­tended to de­ceive the pub­lic.

"The re­claimed land that we filmed in our first video is still there. But this time, we no­ticed that they have cov­ered it with sand.

"Peo­ple un­fa­mil­iar with what has oc­curred would not be able to no­tice that the beach has been filled with rocks,” she said.

Sreysor said the provin­cial au­thor­i­ties' in­ac­tion shows they have no in­ten­tion of solv­ing the prob­lem and are merely de­lay­ing the ac­tivists.

“The prime min­is­ter's or­der was is­sued months ago. There still no so­lu­tion. They just claim ex­perts are look­ing at the is­sue.

"We won­der how long it takes to re­view [the sit­u­a­tion] or if they are wait­ing un­til the com­pany has a le­gal land ti­tle cov­er­ing the area," she said.

Be­cause of the provin­cial au­thor­ity’s per­ceived in­ac­tion, they do not in­tend to wait much longer. They will them­selves fol­low the prime min­is­ter's or­der to re­store the area.

“It is not dif­fi­cult . . . We just need to re­move the rocks and fill the va­cant space with sand. It's not hard. We'll just use the same ma­chin­ery that they used,” she said.

Lo­cal com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tive You Veasna also told The Post that the beach had not been re­stored, and the com­pany has built fences around the area.

“I pass that area ev­ery day . . . The land re­mains the same. About two months after NCCMD vis­ited the area, they built fences sur­round­ing the prop­erty. The provin­cial au­thor­ity has taken no ac­tion to ad­dress the is­sue,” he said.

CAM­BO­DIAN NA­TIONAL RE­SEARCH OR­GAN­I­SA­TION

Part of Prek Treng beach was filled with land and rocks in 2018.

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