The government is set to hand over 38ha of Boeung Tamok Lake for development, according to two sub-decrees dated September 1 and seen by The Post on Sunday.
The first sub-decree says 15ha of the lake will be given to the National Committee for Disaster Management, the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) and the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA).
The second sub-decree adds that 15ha of the lake will be handed over to the Ministry of Rural Development to build a new headquarters and over 8ha to Seng Vuthy, a private company.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Meth Meas Pheakdey said on Sunday he did not want to comment because it was a government decision.
But he emphasised that before deciding to carry out development projects [the government] always considered impacts on the environment and society.
However, Equitable Cambodia executive director Eang Vuthy expressed concern that a possible flood could impact Phnom Penh residents.
“As a civil society organisation, we have serious concerns about narrowing the lake. Hopefully, the government will conduct an in-depth study because this can impact millions,” Vuthy told The Post on Sunday.
He said Phnom Penh recently experienced severe floods. Studies suggest that the lake played a vital role in storing rainwater and keeping waste and wastewater out of the city.
Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) issued a 30-page report last year entitled the Last lake in Phnom Penh. It said filling the lake had affected biodiversity and the environment and caused floods. Thousands of families face the threat of losing their homes, according to the report.
It said 26 natural lakes in Phnom Penh have been filled with soil. Sixteen were filled completely and 10 others partially.
STT called on the government not to continue filling in lakes and wetland areas with soil such as the Boeung Tamok Lake and wetland areas in Boeung Tompun commune or Boeng Choeung Ek.
The government should have conserved them under a special law of strict protection, STT said.
The Boeung Tamok Lake, also known as Kob Srov Lake, spans 3,239.7ha. It is the largest natural lake in Prek Pnov district’s Kouk Roka commune in the north of Phnom Penh.
The government issued a sub-decree in 2018 allocating 20ha of the Boeung Tamok Lake to build a vegetable and fruit market and a parking lot.
On March 13, the government allocated 75ha of the lake to the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall to establish a garden and public park.
On April 27, the government decided to allocate another 34ha of Boeung Tamok Lake. Of the number, 30ha was handed over to Kim Heang, representing a private company.
Another sub-decree dated June 22 said nearly 300ha of Boeung Tamok Lake was allocated to the Ministry of National Defence to prepare the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces General Command.