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Villagers won’t swap land for apartments

Villagers who claim a development project in Russey Keo district has already taken a bite out of their land said yesterday that they fear the plan will swallow the rest of their property, as they filed petitions and met with local authorities.

Members of 80 families who own land in Prek Leap commune’s Kean Khlaing village thumb-printed a petition asking the district and municipality to keep their village off limits to the Overseas’ Cambodian Investment Corporation (OCIC) satellite city project, a community representative, Reth Dyna, said.

The requests – filed with commune, district and Phnom Penh City Hall officials – asked for the project’s area to be revaluated, rather than stopped, Dyna said.

“In reality, we are pleased with the development, which will have commercial buildings, resorts and supermarkets,” Dyna said. “But we do not want to exchange our land and homes with the company.”

Dredging that began in Kean Khlaing last week kicked off the Chroy Changvar development project, a joint venture between the city and OCIC.

But villagers who live there and others who own land to grow rice and vegetables say sand dumped near their property has already ruined a pond they used
for agriculture.

Commune officials met with and encouraged local residents yesterday morning to trade their land for nearby apartments, said Hom Sith, who attended talks. If not, officials advised attendees to gather land titles, family books or any other evidence they could find that proves they legally own the disputed plots.

“The authorities want us to swap our land for a 4-by-12-metre apartment nearby that [OCIC] already built,” Sith said yesterday. “But the trade does not balance out with the amount of land we would
give up.”

Asked about the dispute yesterday, OCIC general manager Touch Samnang said that finding a resolution falls on the municipality.

“Any problems will have to be resolved by Phnom Penh authorities,” Samnang said. “The company is just operating the project.”



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