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Sihanoukville dredging eyed

Villagers make a statement to local media asking authorities to stop dredging sand for a port development in Preah Sihanouk province earlier this month. Facebook
Villagers make a statement to local media asking authorities to stop dredging sand for a port development in Preah Sihanouk province earlier this month. Facebook

Sihanoukville dredging eyed

Ministry of Environment officials yesterday said an inspection team will be deployed to investigate the recently halted sand-dredging operation for the development of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port’s new multipurpose terminal, which has affected local families.

Danh Serey, director of the ministry’s environmental impact assessment department, confirmed ASKL Services & Construction had signed an environmental protection agreement with the ministry under a 2016 joint prakas between his ministry and the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

According to the prakas, projects that cover between 1 to 10 hectares are not required to conduct a full environmental impact assessment before beginning a project, though one must ultimately be completed.

But Heng Nareth, director-general of environment protection at the ministry, said if there is any impact at all, it means the company was noncompliant.

“It means that they violated the agreement” with the Ministry of Environment, he said, adding that the ministry plans to revoke the licence.

Chhe Lidin, spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said the project had been expedited to help facilitate the port development project but wouldn’t say who or what entity expedited the project.

The dredging was halted earlier this month when 14 families in a fishing community complained about impacts to their livelihoods.

The dredging will remain suspended until an exact cause for the impact is found or a solution is reached with the families, Lidin said.

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