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Gov’t cuts leases of 12 ELCs

The government yesterday slashed the lifespans of 12 economic land concessions (ELC) – by half in some cases – as it continued to implement a new policy capping ELC leases at 50 years.

In an announcement, the Ministry of Environment said that of 14 companies under review, 12 in Kratie, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces – which together control more than 41,000 hectares of land – had their 70-, 80- and 99-year ELC leases cut to 50 years.

The duration of the other two companies’ leases, which cover almost 18,000 hectares in Virachey National Park, remain under discussion.

“The policy of reducing [leases] to 50 years will be implemented for all companies,” said, Srun Darith, Environment Ministry cabinet chief.

Darith said the ministry has so far entirely revoked the licences of 23 ELCs – covering almost 91,000 hectares – for breaching the terms of their contracts with the government.

The ministry oversees a total of 113 companies holding more than 610,000 hectares in ELCs, he added.

Eang Sophalleth, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, which oversees another 122 companies holding ELCs, said that as of August 5, 10 companies had had ELCs revoked.

Another six were reduced in size due to breach of contract. ELCs under the Agriculture Ministry’s purview cover between 1.2 and 1.3 million hectares, he added.

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