The NGO Forum yesterday released an extensive and updated accounting of economic land concessions (ELCs) in the Kingdom, suggesting that in a 20-year period, 267 ELCs totalling 1,532,783 hectares were granted.
In a statement announcing the data’s release, the NGO Forum said it had been compiled in hopes the government could use it to address “shortcomings” in the ELC process.
The data collection, from 1995 to the end of 2015, was conducted by the Research Advocacy and Communication Centre, and found that land disputes arising from ELCs had affected 35,000 families in Cambodia, with most of the ELCs found in Kratie province.
NGO Forum executive director Tek Vannara said ELC holders did not respect the rights of people, including ethnic minorities and their traditions.
“Overall, the development and poverty reduction strategies by offering the economic land concessions seem not to respond completely to the demand of the ethnic minorities and their livelihoods,” he said.
Vannara urged the government to evaluate ELCs and develop a map to categorise the types of land in order to reduce the number of land disputes. In 2015, the government evaluated 162 companies and reduced the size of 78 ELCs, the study found.
However, Sy Ramony, an official with the Ministry of Environment, maintained the data was not accurate yesterday because it didn’t reflect recent changes.