Civil society organisations dealing with environmental issues yesterday urged the Environment Ministry to disclose environmental impact assessment reports due to a lack of public information on whether or not companies comply with their reports after development projects have been approved.
In a workshop on “Promoting Environmental Impact Assessment and Sustainable Development in Cambodia” yesterday, Thy Try, executive director of Open Development Cambodia, said the information will enable the public, especially locals, to monitor ministry-approved development projects to see if these projects are impacting the environment.
He said that environmental impact assessment reports are not widely disseminated to the public, adding that some projects affect the environment and can lead to conflict with the local communities.
“ODC collects limited information related to economic land concessions and other development projects such as hydropower plants and coal mines,” Mr Try said. “But we do not have any information showing that companies are complying with their EIA reports.”
He noted that ODC has created a way for the public to access information regarding environmental impacts.
“ODC has created a platform for the public to know about the EIA of companies which we have received information about,” he added. “The ministry should get the help of stakeholders, such as local communities, so that the work is more effective and can reduce environmental impacts and social conflict.”
Sey Pov, a NGO Forum of Cambodia representative, yesterday said they had previously participated in more than 400 EIA consultations on projects which were approved.
He noted that these were very few because the government has approved EIA reports for thousands of investment and development projects.
“It is very important that stakeholders, especially communities, participate in monitoring whether companies are complying with what was listed in their EIA reports,” Mr Pov said.
Hang Monika, a university student in Phnom Penh who attended the workshop, agreed that the ministry should widely disseminate the EIA reports of all development projects to the public.
“I want the ministry to publicly disseminate the EIA reports in order for people to understand the projects and refrain from saying that the constructions of roads, hydropower dams or any development are being carried out without consulting them,” she said.
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday said the ministry has always invited civil society groups to participate in EIA discussions with companies involved in projects.
He noted that the ministry also provides a brief summary of the EIA reports to the public.
“The ministry has been developing procedures to disseminate some information to the public,” Mr Pheaktra said. “But it is not possible to publish the full report because some information, such as a company’s work plan, are confidential.”
He added that the ministry always considers the positive and negative impacts on social and environmental issues when studying EIA reports.