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Small-scale Sand Dredging Business Shut Down

Pav Suy / Khmer Times Share:
A sand dredging barge in Koh Kong province. Mother Nature

A small-scale sand dredging business on the banks of Sraeng lake in Banteay Meanchey’s Teuk Cho commune was shut down yesterday by Preah Net Preah district authorities after it was found to be operating without a license, according to district governor Ly Sovannarith.
The investigation into what authorities are calling a “family business” was conducted after about 20 local protesters representing 50 families in the area raised concerns over the dangers the operation posed to the environment.
District governor Ly Sovannarith told Khmer Times that he ordered a working group to stop the business’s operations.
“I have ordered the operation to be closed. I told the mining department to stop the operation already,” he said.
The order for closure came on the heels of a protest in Teuk Cho commune on Sunday.
The protesters said they feared a possible collapse of the lake’s bank as a result of the sand dredging, which they believe will endanger the families living alongside the lake.
Teuk Cho commune chief Hul Kimthon said the operation is a kind of small family business that was working without permission from the local government.
“The owner did not seek our permission before undertaking his operation,” Ms. Kimthon said. “Even if he had asked for permission for sand dredging, I would not have dared to allow him to do it anyway.”
Long Pea, one of the sand dredgers in question, took issue with the measures leveled against him.
“There are a lot of sand dredging businesses on this same lake in Siem Reap, and have been for many years, but there is no one making a complaint about them and stopping it. Why are they complaining about me?” Mr. Pea asked.
Despite her opposition to the practice, Ms. Kimthon was sympathetic to the businessman’s complaints.
“I don’t really understand either,” she said.

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