Representatives of 171 Pursat families who claim to have been unfairly left out of the government’s land-titling process said they have reached a tentative agreement with the minister of Industry, Mines and Energy to continue farming on the Bakan district land they have occupied for years.
Pin Syli, a villager from Andoung III, said he and about 150 people met with minister Suy Sem yesterday while he was distributing titles to other Pursat residents and lodged their complaint.
“The minister said that he will allow us to use those lands . . . and he will hold a meeting to find [a permanent] solution later,” he said.
“It is extremely unreasonable that authorities say it is state land. In order to follow the local authorities’ solution, we have to rent land from the state, even though we have been growing crops there for 10 years,” added Syli.
The families say they were passed over for titling in November after student land measurers said the areas had been slated as a social land concession for retired and handicapped soldiers.
Villagers, however, disputed the decision, saying they had lived on the land since 2002 – nearly a decade before the concession was granted – and had papers signed by local
authorities proving their occupation claims.
Sem could not be reached for comment, but Phnom Kravanh district governor Touch Sambor confirmed the meeting had taken place with Sem appearing to have ruled in the villagers’ favour.
“In general, before we distribute the land titles, we always post a declaration on a board in order to accept complaints people have. They won’t lose their lands, because they have land receipts, so they will get land titles,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]