The demand by the local residents was made following a cremation on Monday afternoon at the pagoda, located in Daun Penh district.
Chan Tha, 45, living southwest of the pagoda, told The Post that in the past, Wat Ounalom had one crematorium, but later the authorities and pagoda committee decided to close it down due to concerns over its environmental impact and the welfare of Cambodians and tourists.
“When there is a cremation, we find it very difficult to bear the stench blowing from the crematorium, and we also do not know whether the body is carrying a disease. The smoke and smell of the burning body also affects our health,” she said.
Tha said she could not understand why although the existing crematorium was demolished, on Monday there was a cremation held at the pagoda.
“Why was there a cremation in this pagoda? It affects both our health and the environment. It especially affects the number of international tourists staying and visiting downtown in Phnom Penh,” Tha said.
Meanwhile, an owner of a food shop located west of the pagoda, Ouk Sam Oeun, 53, said authorities should stop the cremations from happening inside Wat Ounalom.
“We are unsure if the body is diseased, while the smoke and stench from the crematorium is very difficult to endure,” Sam Oeun said.
The director of the Municipal Cults and Religion Department, Phorn Davy, told The Post that pagodas located in Phnom Penh are prohibited from carrying out cremations. However, he said cremations are permitted in pagodas located outside of Phnom Penh. Additionally, cremations of high-ranking government official are permitted at Botumvatey pagoda.
“For the cremation in Wat Ounalom pagoda on Monday, I have not received any letter from the event initiator,” he said.
He said on Wednesday morning he will investigate and question the pagoda committee over the matter, besides recommending that cremation inside Wat Ounalom be immediately stopped.