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1,000 hectare land grab alleged

1,000 hectare land grab alleged

Villagers in Preah Sihanouk province have accused a businessman of bulldozing almost 1,000 hectares of their farm land in complaints filed to relevant authorities and the provincial court last week.

Pin Lean Hun, a village representative, said yesterday rice paddies, vegetable patches and jackfruit trees on 40-hectare plots belonging to 49 families in Stung Hav district’s Keo Pos village were destroyed when businessmen Cheam Pen cleared the land on June 22.

“His land only [encompasses] 352 hectares but he cleared on the border of the villagers’ land, trying to expand his land title to around 1,300 hectares,” she claimed.  

“Thus, we must protest in case he has secretly made a legal land title.”

But Stung Hav district governor, Ban Sarom, rejected allegations yesterday that Cheam Pen had encroached on the villagers’ property, saying district authorities, court officials and members of the cadastral survey commission had observed the land clearing.

“He cleared the land following the law and it does not affect the villagers’ land. If there was land grabbing, I would file a sub-report to the province,” he said.

Officials, he said, had actually been concerned the villagers would try and encroach on Cheam Pen’s 352 hectare plot, which had been legally awarded to him by the provincial court.

The villagers’ complaint, Pin Lean Hun said, had been thumb printed by 10 representatives and sent to the Stung Hav cadastral survey commission and the district hall as well as the government’s Human Rights Commission and Preah Sihanouk provincial court.

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