Some 400 families have agreed to relocate to the Run Ta Ek Eco village development zone in Run Ta Ek commune in Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srei district in exchange for vacating land they currently occupy along the Siem Reap River between Dragon Bridge and Angkor Bridge in Siem Reap town.
Hy Say, director of the provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said the authorities need to move forward with a plan to build scenic pathways along the historic river as a tourist attraction.
Say said that on December 19 the provincial land management department collaborated with the Apsara National Authority (ANA) to decide on the relocation through a land lottery programme. Out of the 430 families, 405 agreed to take their chances in the lottery for new land plots, with the other 25 families refusing to take part in the drawing.
“For the other 25 families, some of them may not want to participate in the lottery because they do not agree to [the relocation plans]. I don’t know clearly yet about the reasons why two or three families are not happy,” he said.
Hay said the new plots of land for each family measured 20m by 30m. However, they would need to clear the forest on the land themselves.
“We divided the plots in a natural manner; the roads maybe cut off some parts. The size of the plots of land is a little variable, they cannot all be exactly the same size of 20m by 30m,” Say said, adding that the new location is not considered to be a densely forested area.
Say said that on December 21, the provincial authorities took the families from the river to see the new land location where the government had already begun to set up the infrastructure and border posts, assign plot numbers and install power lines to provide electricity.
Penh Chanmarineth, 40, who had accepted a new land plot, said she was happy that the authorities had already prepared infrastructure including electricity, wells and toilets to use.
“Today I saw the new location. The land has not yet been cleared of forest, but I am happy. Even though the new location is far away that’s not a problem. The important thing is that we have a proper place to live,” she said.
The Post could not reach those who refused to relocate for comment.
Sous Narin, the provincial monitor for rights group Adhoc, called on the authorities to provide solutions for all the dispossessed rather than just those living along the banks of the Siem Reap River.
“What about the people living in Siem Reap town who were affected due to the expansion of the roads or the implementation of other government projects? They should find solutions for everyone, not just focus on the people living along the Siem Reap River,” he said.
However, Narin said Adhoc had not received any complaints from residents about the impact of road expansion in Siem Reap as of December 21.