A meeting yesterday between the Supreme Consultative Council and Water Resources Minister Lim Kean Hor over various water issues, including the reclamation of Ta Mouk lake in Phnom Penh, yielded little results as the latter claimed there was nothing he could have done to tackle issues of corruption and land management.
Regarding Ta Mouk lake, City Hall and its partners are currently developing one of Phnom Penh’s last freshwater sources to be an economic hub complete with markets, vegetable farms and apartment buildings.
The project, which covers 20 hectares around the lake in Prek Pnov district, has already been endorsed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to the Council of Ministers.
Villagers, fishermen, vegetable vendors and those who rely on the lake for income said reclaiming the lake will be counterproductive to their livelihoods because many will have to be evicted from their homes.
SCC secretary Chhim Phalvorun yesterday said hundreds of complaints were filed against the Water Resources Ministry by citizens worried about various water issues across the Kingdom, leading to the minister being summoned to the SCC.
Mr Phalvorun said the SCC grilled Mr Kean Hor over the reclamation of the lake and alleged abuses and irregularities not addressed by the ministry.
“Members of the SCC asked His Excellency the minister about the reclamation of Ta Mouk lake and other lakes in Phnom Penh,” he said. “Some high-ranking officials were allegedly taking advantage of it.”
Mr Kean Hor could not be reached for comment yesterday.
SCC member Sok Sovann Vathana Sabong said the council raised cases of alleged abuse by high-ranking army officials over the reclamation project, but Mr Kean Hor replied by saying he had no power to deal with the issues.
“The Minister of Water Resources knew about the issues, but he had no power,” Mr Vathana Sabong said. “He is also worried.”
Pich Sros, another SCC member, yesterday said the Cambodia Youth Party could not accept the minister’s response.
“His answer cannot be accepted because he said he had no power and no money to work on the issues,” he said, noting he will submit a report to Mr Hun Sen. “The minister said he already tried to do what he could.”