Nearly 14,000ha of farmland in Zone 2 and Zone 3 of the Tonle Sap Lake have so far been allocated by the government to some 7,000 households in the provinces surrounding the lake, according to preliminary data seen by The Post on June 7.
The allocations are to families who have lived and relied on the lake since before 2012, according to two separates sub-decrees signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen dated May 27 and May 31.
Of the 14,000ha allocated by the government, 3,448.77ha – recently moved from Zone 3 into Zone 2 – have been given to 1,658 households in Kandieng, Krakor and Bakan districts of Pursat province.
And an area of 6,385ha has been given to 1,749 households in Kampong Thom province’s Taing Kork and Kampong Svay districts.
Twenty-two households in Phnom Leap commune’s Kabao and Kampong Krasaing villages of Banteay Meanchey province’s Preah Netr Preah district received 55.16ha of land.
Of the remaining land, the government allocated 3,750.4ha to 1,172 households in Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Leng district and 1,400 households in Battambang province’s Moung Russey and Ek Phnom districts.
The allocations were confirmed by Chea Sophara, Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, and Battambang Provincial Hall’s head of administration Moul Thun.
Regarding the land inspections of Zone 2 and Zone 3 in Kampong Chhnang province, Sophara told people on June 1 that Hun Sen had been thinking about the people who were facing difficulties.
The premier then assigned a government working group in collaboration with the local authorities to urgently inspect the land in Zone 3 for allocation to people who had been living there at least 10 years.
“Samrong Sen and PhlovTouk communes of Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Leng district have centuries-old pagodas and have been inhabited by many generations.
“For these two zones, the head of the government decided to allocate land in Zone 3 to 1,172 households, with each receiving 20mx100m for residential use and 3ha for farming,” he said.
“Only the head of the government has the right to allocate land in Zone 3 to the people,” Sophara noted.
Meanwhile, Battambang’s administration chief Thun told The Post on June 7 that authorities were continuing to inform the people in Moung Russey and Ek Phnom districts of the need to get the relevant documents ready for verification.
He said the provincial administration had recently made a request to allocate 987.95ha in Moung Russey district to 1,209 households in five communes – Talos, Prey Touch, Kakoh, Russey Kraing and Chrey – to the head of government for review and decision.
A request to allocate 402.4 ha of land in Zone 2 in Ek Phnom district to 191 households in Prek Norint and Peam Ek communes was also made.
“We only make proposals for people who have been living there before 2012, without including newcomer families in it,” Thun said.
According to Thun, the provincial working group is currently continuing to set up border posts to demarcate flooded forests in Zone 2 and Zone 3, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Fisheries Administration to protect and conserve flooded forest resources.
Sok Thol, Siem Reap Provincial Hall’s head of administration, told The Post that authorities had not yet fully inspected and collected data for plots in Zone 2 and Zone 3.
“Currently, our provincial working group has collected some data, but the work of inspecting and collecting data on plots and the number of people who have been permanently staying in some old villages with a long history is not yet complete.
“Once we have completed the inspections, our group will submit a proposal to the head of the government for review and decision,” he said.
Yut Reth, a resident of Chrey commune’s Ankorng village in Battambang’s Moung Russey district, said he was very pleased to hear that the provincial administration had submitted the request.
He said he had 3ha of farmland in an area of flooded forest, and wanted the relevant authorities to speed up the work so he could grow rice this rainy season.
“I do not know what the procedures of the provincial administration or the ministry are. But I would like to ask the relevant authorities to allow us, the old people who have lived and relied on the land for a long time, to grow rice this rainy season,” Reth said.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, supported the move. He encouraged the implementation of the work in a transparent and fair manner so that the allocated land would not fall into the hands of traders and powerful people who were not permanent residents.
“We are pleased and support the decision of the head of the government to allocate the land to the people who used to occupy the land and actually rely on it.
“We hope that the sub-national authorities and relevant ministries will implement this work in a transparent and fair manner,” he said.
In previous land allocations, Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged the relevant ministries and authorities to be thorough in keeping some for the people, otherwise they “must be punished”.
“Officials, powerful person and the wealthy should have enough and have learned enough, so please stop abusing the people,” Hun Sen urged.