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Siem Reap families relocate from river

Siem Reap families relocate from river

111028_04
Ta Ba, 67, who is threatened with eviction from his home along the Siem Reap river, drives past farms along the riverside on Monday in Siem Reap town.

Siem Reap provincial authorities plan to resettle over 1,000 families living along Siem Reap River as part of a project to widen the river to protect the town from the effects of flooding, officials said this week.

Provincial governor Sou Phirin said that families would be resettled in the province’s Sambour commune, about four kilometres from the town.

“We need to expand and rehabilitate the river to defend the Angkor [temple] area,” he said, adding that about 600 families had relocated so far. “We provided 7-by-15 metre plots of land ... and some money.”

Last month, flooding in Siem Reap province killed 24 people and destroyed more than 18,000 hectares of rice paddy.

Siem Reap will continue to flood if people are not evicted from the riverbank, as their waste is blocking the waterway, Chan Yuottha, spokesman from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said.

Villager Ta Ba, 67, said that he had lived in the area for about 30 years. “I do not object to the project, but I need the authorities to provide more compensation,” he said.

Resident Kim Samnang said that she had rejected the land and US$1,500 because she would not accept “small compensation”.

Chan Soveth, senior investigator for rights group Adhoc,  voiced concern that officials might forcibly evict villagers.

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