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Villagers say group illegally cleared land

ABOUT 500 families have accused a private company of illegally clearing their farmland in Sihanouk province and are demanding the company pay them compensation.

The villagers, from Teuk Lak, Teuk Thlar and Samaky communes in Prey Nob district, filed a complaint with local authorities last week calling for the company to pay them US$3 per square metre as compensation.

Y Seng Co Ltd received about 2,500 hectares of land in concessions from the government last year to use for cassava and palm oil plantations and for animal farming, but during their bulldozing they cleared more than 200 hectares of land belonging to villagers within the three communes, villagers said.

Hundreds of complaints

Hak San, chief of Teuk Lak commune, told the Post Wednesday that the people in his commune and people in other communes near Bokor National Park had hoped to get better jobs when they heard Y Seng Co was coming to develop in the area. But after the company bulldozed their farmland, the villagers started to get angry with the company and demanded their loss be compensated.

"We received hundreds of complaints from the people against the company," Hak San said.

Ek Thirun, a supervisor at the Y Seng Co, declined comment when contacted by the Post on Wednesday.

Kampot, Koh Kong affected

Yin Mony, deputy chief of conservation at Bokor National Park, told the Post the company was also clearing the land of worn-out forest areas along the Bokor mountainside in Kampot and Koh Kong provinces. He said the people who live near these zones had also complained that the company had cleared some of their farmland.

"Now we are controlling the working activity of the company, and we will report to the Ministry of Environment if they violate any of our conservation areas," he said.       

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