A Vietnamese rubber giant that has been locked in a long-running land dispute with 11 indigenous communities in Ratanakkiri province has agreed to cede mountain areas, streams and burial grounds deemed to have spiritual significance to villagers.
The company Hoang Anh Gia Lai came to the agreement following a dispute resolution process with representatives of 11 villages in five communes of Ratanakkiri’s O’Chum and Andong Meas districts.
A joint statement on the resolution says the exact location of the land to be given back will be identified by the communities and the company, with an implementation plan to follow.
Village representative Sev Seun said locals were pleased that the mountains, streams and burial grounds will be given back, but warned the issue of compensation for the remainder of the land is yet to be settled.
“We are satisfied by some points of the resolution but not by others,” Mr Seun said. “Our communities want the company to solve the problem of compensation more quickly.”
Eang Vuthy, executive director of Equitable Cambodia, welcomed the dispute resolution.
“I think it is good that the company and villagers came to this agreement through discussions,” Mr Vuthy said. “We hope this positive resolution will continue into the future.”
Deputy Ratanakkiri provincial governor Nhem Sam Oeun said officials had been working hard to find a solution for those involved in the dispute.
“There are still some small problems to iron out, so we will hold further meetings with both parties,” Mr Sam Oeun said.
“I think that we can solve it without too much difficulty.”
Hoang Anh Gia Lai, which holds economic land concessions in the northeast, came under fire in 2013 when London-based NGO Global Witness published a report accusing the company of illegal logging outside of its concessionary areas and holding at least 47,000 hectares of land concessions, almost five times the legal limit.
Representatives of Hoang Anh Gia Lai could not be reached for comment yesterday.