The Apsara Authority has almost finished the removal of the houses illegally constructed before the June commune election on the grounds of Angkor Archaeological Park, a task it started in August and expected to only last one month.
More than 600 buildings were constructed in Banteay Srey, Bakorng, Angkor Thom and Pouk districts prior to the elections with permission only from village or commune chiefs, missing the necessary approval from the Apsara Authority.
The Apsara Authority claimed afterwards that owners of the buildings had constructed them prior to the election to take advantage of officials too busy campaigning to spot that what they were doing was illegal.
Its original estimate put the number of illegal buildings at about 500, a number that has now ballooned to more than 600.
Earlier this month, UNESCO, which lists Angkor Wat as a world heritage site, noted its appreciation for the Apsara Authority’s efforts to clear the constructions, which were undermining the value of the temple.
“We acknowledged a tremendous growth of people in Angkor Park in the past years. So, the containment of illegal construction must be made clear to preserve the value of the Angkor heritage as well as the cultural landscape and everything which is of original value in the park,” said Anne Lemaistre, representative of UNESCO in Cambodia.
Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal said that the removal of the illegal constructions will take one more month.
“We finished our work based on a previous estimate of illegal constructions, but we have found more and must continue to dismantle them,” he said. “Because of this, we need one more month.”
“The figure right now is more than 600,” he noted. “Our previous figure was just over 500.”