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Cambodia to Relocate 5 Floating Villages Along Tonle Sap River to Curb Pollution

Cambodian officials are preparing to relocate five floating villages in Kampong Chhnang province to help reduce water pollution.

According to the Bangkok Post, provincial governor Chhour Chan Dern recently stated that five floating villages in three different locations along the Tonle Sap River will be moved since they cause environmental pollution and damage the waterway's ecosystem. "All floating villages have to be relocated to dry land and all permanent settlements built on the water will be banned," the news source quotes Dern saying.

No timeline has been given for the relocation, but authorities will encourage villagers to move voluntarily first. "Previously about 300 families decided to relocate to dry land from the floating village in the Phsar Krom area and about 800 families are still here," Dern explained to the Post.

Meanwhile the Khmer Times reports that the government will move one village to serve as a guide for other residents on the river. "We'll relocate a floating village in the Phsar Krom area in Kampong Chhnang City as a model in order to clean up and develop the waterfront area," Dern said.

Veng Sakhon, Cambodia's agriculture minister, told the newspaper that he wants to relocate thousands of families living on the river in order to improve their livelihoods. The official has also asked other provinces around the Tonle Sap to explore sites suitable for new housing for villagers.

Officials are concerned about illegal fishing and pollution related to the riverine villages, as well as those located on Tonle Sap Lake. "I have told all provinces along the lake to consider and find appropriate locations for people to live more comfortably...we're not just making the plan today and expecting the move to happen tomorrow or even next year," Sakhon told the Times. "We have to do a lot of planning in order to relocate them." 

[Photo via North Country Public Radio]

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