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Mondulkiri authorities prevent land grab

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary

Mondulkiri authorities recently removed 400 unauthorised poles marking state land that encompasses an area designated for an airport project as well as the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in O’Raing district as officials suspect the poles were placed in an illegal land grab attempt.

Keo Sopheak, provincial environment department director, yesterday said that the operation to check and remove all the illegitimate poles took place on Friday and Saturday, and was overseen by Mondulkiri provincial Governor Svay Sam Eang.

Mr Sopheak noted that the marked, state-owned land has partly been designated for an airport project to be constructed in the future and also encompasses Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.

He added that the poles, which were not placed with legal authorisation, indicated an attempt of illegal land grabbing.

“We saw that the poles were placed there recently, so provincial leaders went to check and stop any further activity from taking place, as putting poles to grab state land is illegal,” he said. “The individuals who commit [land grabbing] will face legal action.”

Mr Sopheak said authorities removed about 400 poles, which are currently being kept at the O’Raing district police office for further legal proceedings.

Mr Sam Eang said authorities carried out the operation to protect state land.

“Not only is the land designated for an airport, authorities also carried out their duties to protect state land,” he said. “The land is currently suffering from encroachment from a handful of people, and provincial authorities have ordered officers to inspect and protect the land.”

Mr Sam Eang noted that the land for the airport covers an area of about 900 hectares.

The Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture have previously urged authorities at all levels to take measures to prevent land grabbing, especially forest land in protected areas.

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