A tycoon who is building a casino and a dam in Oddar Meanchy province has come under fire for displacing villagers – and possibly the military.
Var Sovan, 47, of the province’s Ampil commune, said villagers in the area had lost 6,000 hectares of land to the dam and casino projects, which are being constructed by a firm owned by Oknha Lim Heng.
“Lim Heng’s company cleared and filled the land to build the dam. I asked the provincial authorities, and they said that it belonged to Lim Heng.
They just grabbed the villagers’ lands. The district and provincial authorities have approved it,” she alleged.
“Although my husband lost a leg in the war, we tried to cultivate the land, risking life and limb with land mines.”
She is demanding $35,000 compensation, but has yet to hear from the company regarding restitution.
A company representative denied the allegations.
“My company is building the dam to store water for the people to use. It is the state’s property. My company just builds it for the state. It is not involved in this [land grabbing]. The state has its policy to deal with the people,” he said.
Provincial hall spokesman Vath Paranin said that the dam was commissioned to create a reservoir to provide a reliable source of water for the local communities.
He added that the area was property of the state.
Paranin also denied the villagers’ claim that the construction of the casino had taken land from the military.
Lieutenant General Chhin Chanpor, deputy military chief in Oddar Meanchey, could not reached for comment.