Families protest at land ultimatum

Representatives of the protesters say the ultimatum is unacceptable. KT/Mai Vireak

More than 50 people representing families affected by the Chroy Changvar district satellite city development protested at City Hall yesterday over a land compensation ultimatum.
The dispute is over a demand by City Hall that the villagers cede up to 90 percent of their land for the project backed by the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation.
The protest by citizens from Chroy Changvar, Prek Leap and Prek Tasek communes took place after the ultimatum from Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong on Tuesday last week.
Villagers were given a month to make up their minds on the compensation offer.
If they did not accept the offer, City Hall said it would stop accepting their complaints and would not be responsible for the loss of benefits relating to the land, which would become state property.
Citizen representative Chea Sophat said the City Hall move was to put pressure on the landowners.
He said they would not accept it. He demanded that City Hall drop the ultimatum, cut the former village land out of the project, issue land titles to citizens and provide land in accordance with market prices.
“We don’t accept it, absolutely,” he said. “Bear in mind that the citizens in Chroy Changvar district have all the legal documents.”
He said that City Hall figures showed that nearly 130 families were required by the authority to accept the policy.
However, he said many more families are affected but are not on the list.
A letter from citizens to the City Hall, rejecting the ultimatum, asks for a compromise in which the authorities leave 65 percent of the land untouched and the villagers donate 35 percent of the land to the municipal authority for the satellite city.
The letter seeks compensation in line with market prices and for clearing of citizens’ land to stop while there in no solution.
City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said he would take the citizens’ request to the City Hall leader.
But he said it was not a new case and there had been several meetings, discussions and negotiations.
Sia Phearum, the executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force, urged authorities and citizens who are affected to raise the issues peacefully.
OCIC representative Touch Samnang previously confirmed that the company leased 280 hectares of land from the government for 90 years for the Chroy Changvar Satellite City Development Project.
He said that about 400 of 520 families affected by the project have accepted compensation.
He added that the remaining citizens bought land in the area without living there and City Hall has been resolving the problem for them.

Source: Khmer Times

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