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Renewed push to destroy illegal Angkor homes

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Villagers who have failed to remove structures within Angkor archeological park will be facing further action. Supplied

A joint commission set up to rid the Angkor area of illegal buildings plans to renew its efforts this month after previous attempts met resistance from owners and individuals accused of causing trouble for political gain.

Apsara chief Sum Mob said the authority last month set a two-week deadline for the owners of 521 illegal buildings to remove them.

Mr Mob said owners failed to remove the buildings, so the authorities would soon take action to demolish the remaining illegal constructions to prevent harm to national heritage.

“If this goes on, Angkor Wat could face removal from the World Heritage List,” he said.

“We already know how big a disadvantage that would be, including to the national image, the economy and to people’s lives.

“The government cannot allow a handful of people to destroy the nation’s interests.”

By the end of last month, the authority and local authorities had already carried out measures to remove some illegal constructions.

Some residents had also removed their own buildings, but about 200 blocked the road in front of Angkor Wat demanding the authorities to stop the crackdown.

Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Ly Samrith said the authority plans to start new action to remove illegal constructions next week in four districts and in Siem Reap town, despite complaints from the owners.

He warned of legal action against owners of illegal buildings who refuse to remove them and obstruct the work of the authorities.

“We have already prepared for those who cause trouble,” he said.

“However, we pray to the power of Angkor for people to understand and join to protect the heritage together. No armed force wants to confront its own people.”

Then Chanter, who has removed her illegal building in Siem Reap town’s zone 1, said she was unhappy with the authorities.

“Officials came to check up on us during construction,” she said.

“I asked them whether it was appropriate to build here. They replied that it was okay. They said they had just come to collect data for their superiors to check.

“Once I had completed my construction, when the June 4 commune elections were over, they said they would not allow any construction in the area and would demolish all the buildings.”

According to the Apsara Authority, illegal homes sprung up in 523 places in Angkor Archaeological Park’s zone 1 and 2 between May 20 and June 2, near Neang Pov Temple, Banteay Kdei Temple, Banteay Srey Temple and Bakong district.

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