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Villagers say community forest at risk

Villagers say community forest at risk

More than 100 families in Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadav district are seeking government intervention against an economic land concessionaire they allege has razed over 1,000 hectares of community forest, village leaders said yesterday.

Five representatives for the 144 families departed yesterday to file a complaint at the provincial hall seeking aid, said Sev Khen, 63, a village chief in Sesan commune.

“Workers for the company logged big trees and cleared our forest with axes, long-handled cleavers and chainsaws to get at our land,” Khen said.

But the company has been actively pillaging the area for five months, said Romas Thek, 33, village chief of Pa Tang, a nearby area now just beginning to feel the effects.

“They paid workers $250 each to clear and log one hectare and they have logged about 1,000 hectares already,” Thek said.

However, 7 Makara may not be operating illegally, according to district governor Dok Sor; in 2006, the company was granted land in O’Yadav and Andong Meas districts to cultivate a rubber plantation.

Sor could not confirm how many hectares the company had, but said that locals from Sesan commune filed a complaint at the district hall a few days ago, though authorities have yet to visit the site.

7 Makara could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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