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Govt offers families from Kraya new land

THE last 60 families that have remained landless since they were evicted from their homes in Kampong Thom’s Kraya commune earlier this month were offered new land Tuesday, officials and villagers said.

But the families say that the new land offering, in neighbouring Thmor Samleang commune, is covered with trees and far away from their previous homes.

“The authorities showed us the land, but they have not cleared the land for us,” said Chhun Chhorn, a former resident of Kraya commune. “We must clear the land ourselves.”

Some of the remaining families may reject the land offering, he said.

“It will take a long time to clear the land because it is full of forests,” Chhun Chhorn said.

Former Kraya resident Nong Den, a disabled veteran, said he would take the land, though he said authorities would not immediately grant him a title to it.

“It is my last choice,” Nong Den said.

“I have to agree to accept, even though they did not provide us land titles, because it is better than living on somebody else’s land.”

Nong Den said authorities have told him he will receive a land title only after he clears the land.

“I will face living in poor conditions for a few weeks, and then I can construct a house,” he said.

Kampong Thom’s deputy governor said the families could clear the land themselves because the area is not thickly forested.

“We showed them the land and measured it for them,” said Uch Sam On. “They can start to clear it because it doesn’t have too many trees.”

Land in Kraya commune, where the villagers used to live was originally granted as a concession for disabled war veterans.

In 2007, the government granted the land to a Vietnamese rubber company, sparking a long-simmering dispute that culminated in a forced eviction last month.

Some families said authorities threatened to arrest them if they refused to move to a relocation site located 7 kilometres away.

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