The government has seized more than 50,000 hectares of economic land concessions from a number of powerful companies across the Kingdom, putting the areas under the control of the Ministry of Environment, according to sub-decrees signed last week.
One decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday and obtained by the Post yesterday orders that licences for land totalling 41,632 hectares be revoked from seven companies, including the controversial and politically connected Khun Sear Import Export Company and Reththy Kiri Seyma Co Ltd.
According to the decree, the land will be returned to wildlife sanctuaries under the control of the Ministry of Environment.
Details of the original sub-decrees awarding the companies the ELCs will be “null and void”, it says. According to state news agency AKP, a separate sub-decree signed the same day revoked a further 10,154 hectares of ELCs from two companies in Kampong Speu and Kratie provinces.
At a press conference last week, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ouk Rabun stressed that the government has stopped granting ELCs to private firms and is checking that all those awarded land before the ban are utilising it correctly.
“Thus far, we have already seized ELCs from 63 companies,” he said.
Chan Soveth, senior investigator at local rights group Adhoc, said he backed the action “100 per cent” but added that the government should focus on revoking concessions in areas where long-running land disputes have occurred.
Minister of Environment Say Sam Al could not be reached.