The Apsara Authority allowed villagers to repair and renovate more than 600 deteriorating homes in the Angkor area in accordance with conservation efforts at the Unesco World Heritage Site, a report seen by The Post on Tuesday said.
According to the Apsara Authority Community Secretariat report, in the first five months of this year, they gave permission for villagers to repair and renovate homes in 638 cases, while so far this month they’ve granted permission in a further 35 cases.
The authority specified that renovation permission was granted 139 times to villagers in Prasat Bakong district, 56 in Angkor Thom district, 111 in Puok district, 115 in Banteay Srei district and 217 in Siem Reap town.
The Angkor area is a protected site measuring some 401sq km across Prasat Bakong district, Siem Reap town, Angkor Thom district and Puok district, among others. Unauthorised construction is banned within the area, as are repairs without permission.
The secretariat’s director Oeun Sam Un confirmed in the report that in the first five months of this year, there were 987 cases of villagers applying for permission to repair and renovate their homes, resulting in 349 requests being rejected.
He said requests were assessed in accordance with conserving the World Heritage Site.
Long Kosal, Apsara Authority spokesman, said villagers are generally allowed to rebuild, repair and renovate their homes – and they are not required to pay for applying – but they must meet legal requirements.
“First, villagers must be people who have lived in the Angkor resort area for a long time, and second, we make comparisons with the maps – especially maps before the year 2000 – and the statistics documents that we have collected. If we see that their house has been there for a long time, is deteriorating and is recognised by local authorities, we allow them to tear it down and rebuild,” he said.
Kosal said most applications were for roof repairs, new walls, fences and adding tiles. He said in the past, people did not cooperate and repaired and built without permission, causing problems for the Apsara Authority.
“I urge all villagers to participate in maintaining and looking after the World Heritage Site because it is not only the task of the Apsara Authority but is also the task of each of us who are Khmer to participate in maintaining and looking after it."
“Please villagers, contact the Apsara Authority or commune authorities if you want to repair or renovate. We will cooperate,” Long said.
Meas Khun, Anhchanh village chief in Angkor Thom commune, said he has seen good cooperation between authorities and villagers with regard to renovations.
“When villagers have a problem with their houses, such as a leaky roof, they’ve made a request to the authorities and were then given permission to make the repair. It is much better, but some people still secretly make repairs,” he said.