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Firm ‘logging in sanctuary’

A company in Mondulkiri’s Sok San commune has been gradually cutting down a community forest, pushing more than 100 families off their land, villagers said yesterday.

“That land belongs to us, the government granted it to us in 1999. But the company invaded and let us do nothing on it,” Mao Theoung, 62, from the Phnong minority, said yesterday.

A Council of Ministers report, dated January 3, 2012, said that the government agreed to allow Master Kson Co Ltd to invest in agro-industry, rubber plantations and wildlife conservation and to develop sport hunting over 70 years in a 6,892-hectare concession in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary. However, Theoung said the firm has done little but cut down trees.

“They told us that they planted rubber, but we saw only a few rubber plants. What they did was cut our community forest and use chainsaws to fell trees for trade,” he said.

According to Theoung, 150 of the 250 hectares that 137 families call home have been affected.

San Chin, first assistant to the commune chief, said villagers were simply asking for their land back.

“The authorities treated people badly and satisfied the company even though it destroyed trees. The authorities do not care,” Chin said.

But Mil Soueng, Kok Nhek district governor, said no one has reported the matter to the authorities.

“No one bans them from farming,” he said.

Representatives of Master Kson could not be reached for comment.



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