Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities are imposing a ban on the construction of new tombs and stupas on Svay Mountain following complaints from local residents that it disrupts the flow of tourists and their day-to-day activities.
Provincial Deputy Governor Ly Sary said yesterday that a working group composed of various provincial departments and law enforcement officers will conduct a survey of current tombs and stupas and prevent the building of new ones.
“We had a meeting and we agreed that based on the facts, tombs and stupas that have been built can remain,” Mr Sary said. “Land on the foot of the mountain is state property and we need to keep it intact for tourists and so residents can exercise.”
Mr Sary said that authorities will look into exactly who decided to sell or encroach upon land belonging to the government.
“We also want to prevent illegal land-grabbing and we will promote our decision and disseminate the information through the media,” he added. “We don’t want to see Svay Mountain disappearing from the map and becoming a designated burial site.”
Mr Sary noted that the process could take a while due to the location falling on multiple government jurisdictions that failed to take care of the problem individually.
He said that due to differences between governing bodies, some people have taken advantage of the situation and built illegal tombs and stupas.
The scenery and relatively low cost of burial have made Svay Mountain a prime location.
The foot of the mountain is a popular burial site for many Cambodians. Families tend to prefer to keep their deceased loved ones on the mountain because they believe that the ritual provides good luck and fortune.
Ta Nam, a fortuneteller who offers his services to grieving families, said that he has noticed an increase of burial site construction in the area.
Mr Nam said that families continue to acquire his services in order to choose which location provides the most luck.
“It’s been increasing and continuing because families of the deceased, laymen and the authorities are afraid to take decisive action,” he said.