Families back sugar land deal

Source: Khmer Times

Members of the families from Koh Kong who agreed to the compromise. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Families in Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel and Botum Sakor districts have agreed to accept land and $2,500 per family in a compromise with the Land Ministry to end their land dispute with sugar cane plantation companies.
However, they have asked the ministry to speed up the solution to resolve the feud with Koh Kong Sugar Industry and Koh Kong Plantation.
In a gathering yesterday in front of the Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Ministry, community representative Phav Nherng said the 175 families backed the deal.
She said this after meetings and debating many possible solutions at the ministry and after visits to land at the new location.
The families had agreed to take the cash and three hectares per family, however the land at the new location had not yet been measured.
“The ministry has granted the land to citizens, so we accept it,” she said. “But, the citizens have requested, first, that the ministry repair the existing pagodas and schools in the area.
“Second, we ask for the work to be done quickly because it is the farming season. Farmers need to use the land this year.
“We have already missed farming for more than 10 years on the disputed land.”
Another family member, Yim Sy, 53, said the decision was made to accept the land at the new location about 20 kilometers from the land they had lived on because they faced hardship.
They had not been able to earn a living.
He also called on the ministry to expedite the solution by measuring the land and providing title to citizens quickly so that they can work on the land to survive.
Families say disputes with the sugar cane companies on 782.16 hectares of land have dragged on since 2006, during which time their living conditions have deteriorated sharply.
Tep Thun, an under-secretary of state and head of the ministry’s working group for land dispute resolution, told the families the group has been working to solve the problem.
The next step is for the authority to measure the land and arrange a draw for each family to get their allocation.
“Otherwise, the citizens would go to grab land in a state of anarchy. We will wait after Khmer New Year. We will contact the citizens again.”
Koh Kong provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho In Kongchit said the Land Ministry has to make an effort to resolve land disputes for people affected by the development of sugar cane plantations.
He called on the ministry to speed up procedures to resolve disputes so the families would have arable land as the rainy season approaches.

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