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Change airport plans: villagers

Familes living near Phnom Penh’s airport yesterday again called on civil aviation officials to drop an expansion plan that would cut into their property.

Following a press conference in Por Sen Chey district’s Choam Chao commune, community leader Kao Sovann said members of 63 families will submit a petition to aviation representatives, asking them to revise the “buffer zone” that would surround the airport. “It will affect property behind our houses,” Sovann said. “Some people will have no land left at all.”

Residents of Chom Chao’s Trapaing Lvea village found out about the expansion from civil aviation employees in February, Sovann said.

The plan would also affect property and force evictions in other Choam Chao villages.

About 500 families live in the area, some of which have been there since 1979. Airport authorities marked dozens of homes in Chrey Chisark village with spray paint last month, indicating that they would be torn down.

The renovation is necessary to bring Phnom Penh International Airport up to safety standards, said Soy Sokhan, undersecretary at the aviation secretariat. The project will create necessary “security and safety zones”.

“We have to improve the airport in accordance with [international] standards,” said Sokhan, who insisted proper payments will be made to villagers who lose land. “We will pay an amount acceptable to villagers and will not pressure them.”

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