As satellite city developments spring up on water bodies all across the country, the government last week rebuffed one such request on 1,000 hectares of a Kandal province lake, a cabinet document shows.
Hing Thoraxy, secretary of state at the Office of the Council of Ministers, signed a decision dated August 27 that a request by a company named as Win-Win Construction was rejected. The request was for more than 1,000 hectares of state lake in Lvea Em district’s Barong commune.
“[We] must keep the land that the Win-Win Construction company requested to buy as a natural lake to serve the public interest, and must keep this lake and find a way to dig it deeper to keep water,” the decision says. “The Ministry of Agriculture … and the Kandal administration must stop accepting and making requests for this area of land.”
Barong commune police chief Ly Sokheng said he didn’t know the company, but thought most of the land around, including lakes, had already been handed over to other private companies.
“All of them have a lot of land and all of the land is in their hands … very little in the hands of people,” he said. “Most of the land has already fallen to the companies, and the companies have bought all of it. There have been a few companies who have placed their offices here, ING and 7NG and Khun Sea.”
The three companies Sokheng named are all major developers, with ING behind the Boeng Tompun satellite city, Khun Sea filling the Mekong river across from Phnom Penh, and 7NG behind an ongoing development in Kandal on what has been called 7NG Road.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the difference with other lake developments, such as Phnom Penh’s Boeng Tamok and Boeng Tompun, was that the 1,000 hectares in Barong commune had not been encroached upon and available to purchase from residents.
“Like Boeung Tompun, people have already claimed that land as owners, and developers must buy it from the people. While Boeng Trabek, people have encroached on that lake to live, and the Phnom Penh municipality to make a canal,” Siphan said. “This time, the city or provincial or district administration already had control of the territory, and the land was still public land, so we could make this decision.”
“This is for the public interest, and samdech saw that people might need that lake for water, fisheries, a food source and other resources,” he said, using an honorific for Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Siphan added that there were many similar rejections, but they did not become public.