Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Koh Kong confronts encroachment on protected state land



Koh Kong confronts encroachment on protected state land

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Authorities and rangers patrol in a protected area in Koh Kong’s Thma Bang district on November 21, 2020. Photo supplied

Koh Kong confronts encroachment on protected state land

Authorities in Koh Kong province are searching for the individuals who set up border posts on nearly 200ha of protected forest, with officials and activists claiming that powerful tycoons had hired local people to encroach on the land.

On Sothearith, governor of Koh Kong’s Thma Bang district, told The Post on November 22 that after protected forest land was allocated to people who had lived in the district’s Russey Chrum commune for many years, some people came in to claim the conservation areas with the intent to sell the land to businessmen.

“This land is in a protected area, not in an allocated area. As the first conclusion, the encroachment on the land was by the local people. They heard the government was allocating the land and that there are people willing to buy land in the area,” Sothearith said.

According to Sothearith, the authorities are working to identify these individuals so they can arrest and send them to court. He added those people were secretly setting up border post on the land at night.

Thong Chan Dara, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the problem of encroachment on state land started after Prime Minister Hun Sen in July ordered relevant ministries to inspect and measure the land so it could be allocated to local people who lived in the conservation areas.

He added that wealthy and powerful people had allegedly hired individuals to cut down trees and set up border posts to proclaim their ownership of the state land.

“Some people have planted large trees on state land and hired people to build houses or cottages on land in protected and conserved areas to make it look like they have owned the land for a long time. Most of them are influential people who do so as proof of ownership so that they can request allocation of the land,” Chan Dara said.

Provincial Department of Environment director Morn Phalla said on November 22 that encroachment on state land had recently been on the rise in the province.

“The increase of encroachment on state land is because bad people have heard that the land is allocated from the protected area to people who don’t have land. They think the area that they are encroaching on is land the authorities have allocated,” he said.

During a recent plenary meeting at the Council of Ministers, Hun Sen ordered the ministries of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and Environment to allocate land for people who had lived for more than 10 to 20 years in conservation areas and on other protected state land.

The ministries were told in July to issue land titles to those residents and to do so in the coming months. Hun Sen also warned of legal action against powerful people who hire others to encroach on protected land.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there