Local Chief Back in Hot Water Over Excavation

Source: Phnom Penh Post | Thu, 9 June 2016, by

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Machinery excavates soil from a plot of land in Kandal province last month. Photo supplied

The chief of a commune in Kandal province’s Muk Kampoul district is in trouble over illegal dredging activities for the second time in less than a month, with the Kandal Fisheries Administration on Monday seizing 13 trucks that were removing dirt from the bottom of Chunnlen Lake without authorisation.

Russey Chroy commune chief Um Chhong Sreng was previously busted on May 24 after 30 trucks were discovered full of dirt from the lake.

Kandal Fisheries Administration head Vith Tharith said Sreng will face a fine this time, but did not specify how much.

Sreng, who last month said he was following orders from the prime minister to deepen water sources in response to the drought, maintains his actions were humanitarian. “We dug up the lake in order to make a reservoir for people to use,” he said.

The Post previously reported that Sreng said the commune had sold the right to extract the soil to businessmen for $20,000; money he said was used to repair nearby roads. However, CNRP commune official Thai Sothea said those businessmen included Sreng’s son and a fellow commune official.

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