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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Conservation continues at Preah Vihear temple

Conservation continues at Preah Vihear temple

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090512_04b.jpg

Part of conservation efforts promised to UNESCO could result in the eviction of 792 families from two villages: government officials

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TRACEY SHELTON

A woman and her daughter sit outside Preah Vihear temple earlier this week.

NEITHER the ongoing border dispute with Thailand nor protests from Cambodian villagers will delay Cambodia's effort to preserve the Preah Vihear temple complex, officials say.

"We are working in places that are not related to the disputed areas on the border. We are working in the east and south that are located in Cambodian territory," Chuch Phoeung, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said Monday.

He said that the Bayon Foundation is repairing roads and steps at the eastern entrance of the temple, while the Preah Vihear Temple Authority is doing the daily maintenance of the temple and steering clear of contested land.

In order to fulfill promises Cambodia made to UNESCO for the granting of  Preah Vihear's World Heritage site status, Cambodia has barred construction within 30 metres around the temple complex and designated a "prohibited area" 3 kilometres around the temple.

But Cambodia also agreed to a third zone - a "development area" - that stretches from 3 to 10 kilometres away from the temple.

The zone is to be administered by the Preah Vihear Temple Authority and will house a museum.

Ko Muoy, a village largely destroyed by Thai rocket fire in April, and Prasat village stand in this third zone, and the towns' residents are being evicted by the Cambodian government to make way for an ecotourism area that will fulfill Cambodia's obligation to UNESCO, said Suos Yara, an undersecretary of state at the Council of Ministers.

Suos Yara said the government's conservation efforts will require the relocation of 792 families in Ko Muoy and Prasat villages to Sa Em, 10 kilometres away.

Phay Siphan, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, said Monday the families that have agreed to compensation will be moved gradually and will receive 2 million riels (US$484.73), a plot of land 50 metres by 100 metres and a new house as compensation.

But last week, Hun Sen's Cabinet of Ministers, the National Assembly and the Senate received a complaint with 209 thumbprints from Ko Muoy villagers, and later from about 20 villagers who said they were from Ko Muoy protesting the proposed compensation.

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