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Accusations traded in Kandal lake ‘land grab’

Accusations traded in Kandal lake ‘land grab’

Villagers in Kandal province’s Khsach Kandal district are claiming that a local businessman is occupying and filling in a seasonal lake formerly used as a communal fishery and rice paddy, though local authorities yesterday blamed locals for illegally selling plots of the state-owned land.

Lem Prek, 39, a resident of Prek Takov commune, said yesterday that Boeung Kach was being filled with sand by local businessman Ly Sengkheang, and pointed the finger at local officials, whom he accused of colluding with the company.

The filling of the lake, he said, “has been going on for months, but instead of preventing the action, the authorities tried to persuade people to sell the land they have relied on for years, but hold no land titles for”.

Chea Mach, Prek Takov’s commune chief, declined to comment on the matter, and Sengkheang could not be reached.

However, Hun Korn, chief of Svay Chrum commune, where part of the lake is located, confirmed that villagers who used the lake had no title to it, but were illegally selling it to various businessmen.

“In the past, we authorities observed that [businessmen] and rice traders persuade the villagers to illegally sell the land to them, but the local authorities were not involved in the land sale,” Korn said.

According to Cambodian law, lakes are considered state property, and their sale by individuals is not permitted.

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