Construction of the Angkor New City development project in Siem Reap province’s Varin district will begin at the end of the year, according to an investor in the project, amid concerns from villagers about the compensation they will receive for being displaced.
Tea Kosol, CEO of the Cambodian company Banya Group, said investors would spend US$1.25 billion in the first phase of construction, which will include hotels, condominiums and a golf course. He said that roughly 4,000 hectares of the 7,000-hectare site in Sre Noy and Lavea Kreaing communes would be developed.
Tea Kosol said that about 200 families were still living on the project site, roughly 100 kilometres from Angkor Wat, and he blamed these families for slowing development. But he said he was optimistic that the families would accept a compensation offer of US$200 per hectare following a meeting between investors, provincial officials and village representatives last week.
Families living on the land rejected this same offer early last year.
Sre Noy commune chief Chhem Savoeun said he had not yet heard of the construction timetable. Since 2005, he said, villagers have protested frequently against the development, in part because its scale has expanded from an original plan of 2,000 hectares to its current 7,000 hectares.
“Some families demand to exchange their land with land off the company’s site, and some families demand a higher price” of $1,500 per hectare in compensation, he said.
Phoeung Tha, a villager in Sre Noy commune who will be affected by the development, said more than 300 families would be affected by the development plans.
“I have 4 hectares and I demand $1,500 per hectare of farmland and $800 per hectare for unused field,” he said. “I wait to see them come to a settlement on this issue, but I am concerned about the policy of compensation.”
Last year, local rights group Adhoc filed complaints on behalf of villagers objecting to the estimated $12 billion project.