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Government Gives Land to Villagers

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Government of cials help local people with paperwork. Supplied

The Preah Sihanouk provincial hall has started providing land to nearly 300 families living illegally around the Kbal Chhay waterfall in Sihanoukville’s Muoy commune.
 
The decision to provide land came after villagers blocked National Road 4 in September, burning tires in protest of resettlement from the Kbal Chhay protected forest.
 
Provincial governor Yun Min said yesterday that after receiving the decree on the establishment of a multiple use area on Wednesday that provincial authorities have started handing out five-meter by 20-meter parcels of land to families who were living in the protected area.
 
“We give to the actual people who are living there. The provision of land is the kindness and compassion of the government to the people. After they occupy the land for five years, they can sell or exchange it,” he said.
 
Mr. Min said the provision of land will be made in stages. After providing land to the families, provincial authorities will set up the infrastructure, water and electricity.
 
Kbal Chhay resident Nou Somaly said she was satisfied and thanked the government for giving land to the poor people in the area.
 
“Thanks to Samdech [Prime Minister Hun Sen] and the provincial government who gave land to us. We also request that all new people get land because they are poor,” she said.
 
Cheap Sotheary, a provincial official for rights group Adhoc, applauded the decision to end the controversial land dispute even though the area of land was smaller than the land the families currently occupy.
 
However, she requested that the competent authority enforce land management in the protected forest to prevent people from clearing forest in an effort to grab land.
 
“In the past, the authorities didn’t take action to stop the people who live in the area. After the people came to grab land over there, the problem occurred when they tried to expel them from the area, which is not good,” she said.
 
“The authorities should have taken action before. The authorities in the protected area must be responsible by the law. They did not prohibit citizens [from grabbing land] from the beginning.”

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