Many lakes in Phnom Penh has been projected to be filled for the development, which is supposed by the government that they will provide many benefits to the city in term of social and economic improvement. A new major topic regarding Boeung Tumpun Lake, covering 2,600 hectares at southern part of the city, has been discussing among Phnom Penh dwellers about its negative impacts to the city, and the life of people living there.
Flooding during wet season will be getting worse after the lake is filled with the tons of sand because Boeung Tumpun is the large natural sewage and rainwater catchment. It is the useful reservoir to escape the rainwater from city. Relying only on the poor quality and insufficient sewer system existing will not be able to release the water to the natural river on time; thus, just a little rain still can cause some areas to be inundated. When the city is flooded, it will result in some social issues: road infrastructure degradation, lowering business activity, stress and annoyance and so forth.
Another main point is the fact that sewage will flow directly into the natural river without undergoing any treatment. Vegetation and the growth of morning glory and water mimosa provide high effectiveness in contaminant reduction from wastewater through its natural process. However, the sand has been pumped into the area and destroys this purification system day by day. Meanwhile, Cambodia is not able to create its own sewage treatment plant since it is high-cost. Hence, all wastewater will release to Tonle Bassac River and it will cause many harmful drawbacks to people downstream including human health, and ecological destruction.
Last but not least, people living in Boeung Tumpun Lake will be relocated and obtained compensation in unsatisfied amount. According to the new initiative of city hall, residents of the lake need to buy their land back from the government with a lower price set by the government in order to receive the legal land title. Otherwise, they have to sell the land to the state. Nonetheless, if you look to other corner, this initiative is just a trick in the development form. Most residents live under poverty line and they can earn only 2.5$ daily in maximum, so how they can manage to afford the land. Next, they will be forced to leave, relocate and get the small-amount compensation. The residents’ fate might repeat the past experience of Boeung Kak Lake residents. At the end, they could be on the road for demonstration to fight for what is fair and acceptable for them.
To sum up, filling Boeung Tumpun Lake could possibly be resulted in city flooding, water pollution, and house tragedy of the lake residents. The government should take into account of these enormous impacts before starting any development project. Open and transparent discussion should be called on to ensure the sustainable development in the city.