The Supreme Consultative Council yesterday questioned Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem over a request by tycoon Try Pheap to conduct a study on the viability of a sand dredging operation along the banks of the Mekong and Bassac rivers.
Mr Sem was asked to give his input because his ministry oversees underwater mining operations which is closely related to sand-dredging operations handled by the Water Resources Ministry.
Yos Monirath, Mines and Energy Ministry spokesman, yesterday said that Mr Sem told the council that he could not give any input until he sees a report from the Water Resources Ministry after it finished studying the request.
Pich Sros, a Supreme Consultative Council member from Cambodian Youth Party, raised concerns over the dredging operation during the meeting.
Mr Sros said yesterday that during the meeting with the council, Mr Sem stated that although the ministry did not have the jurisdiction to grant a licence for sand dredging, it could give one out for underwater mining.
“So I am worried that when the company gets a license for sand dredging, it will also mine the rivers,” he said.
Mr Sros added that since Mr Sem could not give details on the sand dredging issue, he will ask the council to seek a meeting with Water Resources Minister Lim Kean Hor to provide the information.
Earlier this month, the Council of Ministers instructed the Water Resources Ministry to proceed with a request made by Try Pheap Engineering & Construction to conduct a study on the viability of a sand dredging operation along the banks of the Mekong and Bassac rivers.
In a directive dated May 7, Chrea Sokchenda, secretary of state of the Council of Ministers, said the company offered to restore and build an embankment in exchange for the sand dredging operation.
It is not clear which parts of the rivers will be affected, but the directive noted that the company aims to conduct operations beginning in Kandal province’s Ka’am Samnor checkpoint, near the Vietnamese border, until the provinces of Kampong Cham and Kratie.