The Agriculture Ministry has ordered officials to investigate and take action against people who illegally cleared state land in Kampong Chhnang province’s in Rolea Ba’ier district.
Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon yesterday said that after receiving information about the land grab in the district’s Trapaing Ampil, Pra Sneb and Saorm villages, he assigned officials to check the area and take action to prevent further land grabs.
“I informed my officials to go and check the location,” he said. “We will identify and take court against those who cleared the land.”
On Sunday, residents told local media that a group of brokers, on the pretext of building a road, had used heavy machinery to clear the communal forest land in order to divide it into plots to sell.
They noted that the state land covers about 1,000 hectares.
Provincial Governor Chhour Chandoeun yesterday said that after receiving information about the land grab on Sunday, provincial authorities sent police to guard the area. He said he had set up a commission to investigate the case.
“We have entrusted the task of investigating this case to a commission that we established at 4pm [yesterday], so I am not able to say anything about this case yet,” Mr Chandoeun said. “We have to wait for the commission to complete its work.”
He added that the commission will measure the cleared land and identify those responsible before taking any legal action.
“We need to measure how much state land was cleared because there are also farmlands surrounding the forest,” Mr Chandoeun said. “If we confirm that state land was illegally cleared, we will take legal action,” he said.
In March, Mr Sakhon urged authorities at all levels to take action to prevent and suppress forest crimes, forest land grabs, fisheries crimes and the use of illegal agricultural equipment.
The Ministry of Environment previously has also warned and taken legal action against people, who cleared and grabbed state land, especially protected forest land for occupation.
So far this year, nearly 10 culprits have been sent to the court.