Officials from the Departments of Land Management, Urban Planning, Construction and Cadastral Affairs of Tbong Khmum and Svay Rieng provinces have begun to prepare over 300 plots of social land concessions for members of the police and armed forces stationed along the Cambodia-Vietnam border, and several impoverished families in the area.

Land management minister Chea Sophara, who is also chairman of the National Social Land Concession Committee, inspected the site on February 26. Work began the following day.

According to a February 17 decision by the Council of Ministers, 611ha in Tbong Khmum and 563ha in Svay Rieng has been allocated for the purpose.

The land was handed to the land concession committee by the National Authority for Border Affairs.

Tbong Khmum land management department director Poch Sothearith said 300 homes would be built in the two provinces.

“In Tbong Khmum, we will take six months to build 50 homes in each of four villages. Each will have its own 30m by 40m section. The new homes will be in Trapeang Phlong 1, Khlay, Rong and Chan Moul villages,” he added.

“We are in the process of constructing new roads to all of the locations,” he continued.

His Svay Rieng counterpart Minh Sichai said 100 homes would be built in two districts – Chantrea and Kampong Ror.

“We are developing close to 300ha so far. As soon as we receive additional directions, we prepare more,” he added.

Rights group ADHOC spokesman Soeung Sen Karuna said that while he is pleased that people are receiving social land concessions from the state, he hopes the government has carefully studied the land in question.

“In the past, some concessions affected land owned by other residents. In some cases, the land was not fertile, or was too far from necessary infrastructure like roads, public services and pagodas,” he told The Post on February 27.

“A thorough review of all potential shortcomings should be carried out before people are invited to move onto the land. For example, is there a local market for the crops the people will grow?” he added.

Sichai said land had been allocated for a school, health centre, market, pagoda, and One Window Service Office at the Svay Rieng locations.

“They will have adequate infrastructure. We have even set aside land for a women’s association, ponds and common community gardens,” he added.

The ministry said in its 2022 annual report that it has also allocated 2,833.49ha of agricultural land along the border in Stung Treng province to veterans – and serving officers and soldiers of the police and armed forces – and their families.

In collaboration with the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EDC), the ministry also built 36 homes for the families of soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Brigade in Ta Moan Sen Chey village of Oddar Meanchey province’s Banteay Ampil district. It has plans to build additional homes in Oddar Meanchey, as well as Preah Vihear province, in 2023.