Villagers protest at ministry

Source: Khmer Times

Villagers from Kratie province protest at the Land Management Ministry yesterday. Supplied

Villagers locked in a land dispute with a Chinese company granted an economic land concession in Kratie province yesterday protested outside the Land Management Ministry to demand an expedited solution to their quarrel.

Villagers from Snuol district’s Pi Thnou commune initially asked the government to cut land out from the concession to be given to families living there in 2016.

Pon Sopheap, 41, a representative of more than 40 families, said that in 1991, villagers of 67 families cleared 300 hectares of land for cultivation.

But in 2012, provincial authorities leased the land to the Chinese company UBE Development, and blocked villagers from their homes, he said.

Since then, provincial authorities have found solutions for about 20 families, but more than 40 families living on about 30 hectares of land are still awaiting land titles, Mr Sopheap said.

“The ministry, please help solve the case for the remaining citizens,” he said. “During the time to wait for a solution, we have no land for farming and nothing to eat.”

Land Ministry spokesman Seng Lot said ministry officials had already met with citizens and would continue to look for solutions.

A representative of UBE Development could not be reached for comment.

Executive director of  the Housing Rights Task Force Sia Phearum said many land disputes dragged on because local officials failed to effectively carry out orders from the national level.

“Development is for the benefit of all, so if the company profits, why don’t they let the poor people profit also,” he said.

“But if the subordinate do not comply with the recommendations of the upper level, then it affects the people.”

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