Kiri Vong district administration in Takeo province has set up a committee to identify people who have encroached on many hectares of land at the foot of Chrous Chan Mountain, Tagnil Mountain and Kouk Prech Mountain in three communes of Ream Andoeuk, Kompeng and Kok Prech after the provincial administration ordered that legal procedures be implemented.
Provincial administration director Meas Uy told The Post on March 3 that the provincial administration had not yet received information on how many hectares have been encroached upon, but he [said that] he had allowed the district administration to set up a committee investigating the encroachment.
Uy said he was made aware of the encroachment in these communes by a few residents, but he did not yet know whether it involved any provincial officials.
“Previously, there was involvement with an official in Kiri Vong district. The official had encroached on the land in Ream Andoeuk, but the provincial administration had solved it by dismissing the official from position.
“Now, if we look at the involvement of officials and it is serious [involvement], we will send them to court. But if the situation is not serious, we will [write] a letter warning them or [remove] them from work,” he said.
Kiri Vong district administration director Suth Khon said on March 3 that this committee was already set up in early March and was at work already in the communes of Ream Andoeuk and Kok Prech after the district administration was told by the provincial administration to identify people who are behind the encroachment upon state land.
He further said that currently the district administration was collaborating with the provincial Forestry Administration to measure the land and demarcate plots clearly.
But up until now, they had not yet counted the number of the encroached plots. When a working group went there to measure it, first they identified some individuals behind the encroachments on forest land, but he declined to reveal the identities of those individuals, saying he would let the committee finish its work first.
“I cannot tell you their identities now while we are still working on it. I will provide a report and when I identify them clearly, I will send the report to the provincial administration to implement legal procedures,” he said.
Suth Khon added that the provincial hall had given the district administration seven to 10 days to completely measure the land and demarcate plots in the three communes. He said if the district administration had not yet finished the work, then they would request that the provincial administration provide further help.
Kok Prech commune chief Chhit Born said on March 3 that some residents had encroached on a few hectares of state land in his commune at the foot of Kouk Prech Mountain.
He said they had sold the land to an investment company which intended to use it to grow mangos, but he did not sign into the sale.
He also did not yet know whether the company was involved with provincial officials because the sale and purchase of the land were between the company and the residents who had sold the property.
However, he maintained that in his commune there was a small portion of state land that had been encroached upon. He said the encroachments were not like those that took place in the communes of Ream Andoeuk and Kompeng at the foot of Chrous Chan Mountain, Tagnil Mountain or Kouk Prech Mountain.
“After there was this problem the district administration set up a committee along with the commune and village to identify the individuals involved with these land encroachments. My commune
has seen fewer cases of encroachment, while the communes of Kompeng and Ream Andoeuk have seen more cases,” he said.
Yun Phally, the coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Kampot, Kep and Takeo provinces, said whether ordinary or powerful people encroached upon state land in these communes, the authorities have to identify the offenders to bring them to justice.
“At this stage, any one individual can encroach upon state land to take personal ownership [of it and the] authorities should take strict legal action against them,” he said.