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Cambodia: Flood risk for 1 million in Phnom Penh as wetlands destroyed

By: Reuters | Bangkok |

Up to date: July 27, 2020 9:22:04 am


Throughout quickly increasing Asian cities, demand for land for housing and workplace blocks has put larger stress over land. (Representational)

A couple of million individuals in Phnom Penh face the danger of elevated flooding and lack of livelihoods as wetlands within the Cambodian capital are destroyed to construct flats and industries, human rights teams warned on Monday.

Developments – together with the ING Metropolis township – will cut back the Tompoun wetlands to lower than a tenth of its 1,500 hectares (5.eight sq miles), and result in the eviction of greater than 1,000 households who dwell on its edge, activists mentioned in a report.

It might additionally impoverish hundreds of households who farm and fish within the wetlands within the metropolis of 1.5 million individuals.

“The wetlands maintain native communities and play an important function in Phnom Penh’s waste administration and flood prevention,” mentioned the report from Equitable Cambodia, LICADHO, the Cambodian Youth Community and land rights group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT).

“Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians will probably be affected by the possibly devastating impacts of destroying the wetlands.”

Phnom Penh, located on the banks of the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers, is already extremely weak to floods, significantly within the wet season from June to October.

Lakes and wetlands similar to floodplains, mangroves and marshes regulate water stream, minimise flooding, purify water and replenish groundwater, mentioned Diane Archer, a senior analysis fellow on the Stockholm Setting Institute in Bangkok.

“Metropolis authorities ought to recognise wetlands as an essential useful resource to be protected and built-in into the city setting,” she instructed the Thomson Reuters Basis.

“But in lots of cities, enlargement takes place with out the required enforcement of city planning or in-depth environmental impression assessments,” she mentioned.

Throughout quickly increasing Asian cities, demand for land for housing and workplace blocks has put larger stress over land.

Cambodia has endorsed the worldwide conference on wetlands safety, but about half its wetlands have disappeared during the last 15 years, in keeping with conservation group Wildfowl and Wetlands Belief (WWT).

In Phnom Penh, 15 of 25 lakes have been infilled, with a couple of third of the Tompoun wetland infilled thus far, STT mentioned.

Dredging the greater than 100 million tonnes of sand wanted for infilling poses added dangers to communities and the setting, mentioned Eang Vuthy, govt director of Equitable Cambodia.

“On condition that hundreds of thousands shall be affected, in-depth research and public consultations are wanted,” he mentioned.

A spokesman for the federal government mentioned the reclamation was vital for the town’s growth, and that an setting impression evaluation had been carried out.

“A canal is being constructed to divert extra water, and there’s a wastewater remedy plant. Some relocations are vital, however they’ve been given ample time to maneuver,” mentioned Phay Siphan.

In Phnom Penh, practically 4,000 households have been evicted in 2007-08 from their properties round Boeung Kak – “boeung” is lake in Khmer – because it was crammed in for a enterprise district.

Authorities should now prioritise public curiosity, mentioned Vuthy.

“A balanced mannequin that protects the rights of individuals and the setting with city growth is feasible, however solely with significant session and analysis,” he mentioned.

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