Tycoon Banned From Otres Beach

Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
A bridge under construction at Otres Beach in Sihanoukville. Supplied

Under a government order from the National Committee on Management and Development, all construction along Sihanoukville’s Otres Beach must stop, some existing structures will be demolished, and a tycoon’s proposed ownership of the beach has been officially rejected.
The Royal Group’s Kith Meng, criticized by local residents for his extensive development on the island of Koh Rong, had proposed construction of a port on Otres Beach to support development on Koh Rong. Mr. Ming’s proposal on August 2015 asked for private ownership of 40 meters by 15 meters of Otres Beach. This is banned under the order contained in a letter dated January 20, 2016.
The letter, signed by Minister Im Chhunlim of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, who also serves as president of National Committee on Management and Development, says, “The proposed location [for construction by The Royal Group] is not allowed because the government has a set plan for Otres Beach to be a model beach for the tourism sector and to keep it environment friendly, so the government has to stop construction on the beach in the area.”
It appears existing buildings will be bulldozed, as the letter continues. “Authorities must take actions to demolish illegal buildings from the area’s beach zone.” 
Mr. Chhumlim called on the Preah Sihanouk governor, who is president of the National Committee on Preah Sihanouk Beach Management and Development, to stop all construction and to restore the beach area.
Mr. Chhumlim said there will be no construction without approval from the national committee, and he ordered investment companies to find other places that are suitable, especially those that do not harm the environment.
Yun Min, Preah Sihanouk provincial governor, told Khmer Times yesterday that he has ordered the authorities to stop the construction and restore the area as directed by the national committee, but to take no action against The Royal Group. “When asking for the rights to occupy, the company [The Royal Group] has already started the construction by claiming that it’s urgent to build the port for development, but the construction has only built just little,” he said.
Cheap Sotheary, coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Sihanoukville who claimed to have observed the construction area yesterday, said the Royal Group has not stopped its construction activities. 
“The National Committee’s statement was heard widely in Sihanouk province, but the company did not stop immediately and continued the construction. This violates the law. Most important, the construction was not approved yet. I think the authorities should examine the issue and take action.”
The Royal Group could not be reached for comment yesterday.
According to Neb Samuth, Tourism General Director, Otres Beach has been selected by the ministry as the template for ensuring that bays and beaches are environmentally friendly in order to draw more domestic and international tourists to the coast. He said the drafted “Coastal Master Plan” is likely to get approval from the Ministry of Tourism and other ministries in the middle of this year.

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