Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Singapore sand demand seen damaging Cambodia environment

Neil Chatterjee in Reuters: Singapore's thirst for sand to increase land reclamation and construction is driving an ecologically damaging sand-dredging industry in Cambodia, according to a report by a non-governmental organization. London-based Global Witness said on Tuesday that Cambodia's sand-dredging industry threatened endangered species, fish stocks and local livelihoods, despite the government's May 2009 ban on sand-dredging.

"This situation highlights the continued failure of Cambodia's international donors to use their leverage to hold the small elite surrounding the Prime Minister to account," said George Boden, campaigner at Global Witness. "Cambodia's natural resource wealth should be lifting its population out of poverty."

Koy Koung, the spokesman and undersecretary of state at Cambodia's Foreign Affairs Ministry, said he was unable to comment as the government had not seen the Global Witness report.

The report said Singapore was the world's largest importer of sand in 2008 and has used sand imports to increase its landmass by 22 percent since the 1960s. It said this development has wreaked havoc on the region's coastlines, with Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia having all announced bans on sand dredging for export due to environmental concerns….

Beach sand shot by Bobanny, who has released it into the public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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