The Apsara Authority on Tuesday gave three families two days to remove buildings deemed to violate building regulations in Trapaing Hephka dam in Siem Reap province’s Chriev commune.
Apsara Authority’s General Department director-general Hang Pov had initially sent letters in early October to Chhit Sodaing, Yun Sokhorn and Pum Sokunthea, instructing them to remove their offending buildings.
The authority warned that if the three failed to comply with the order they would be subject to administrative measures, including the possibility of sending the case to court.
Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that after a recent meeting with the three families, they each requested a further two days to comply with the order to remove their buildings.
“In the meeting, the families accepted what they did was wrong and illegal, and they also showed their willingness to participate in the maintenance of [Siem Reap’s] cultural heritage.
“They asked us to give them two days, deciding that they would remove the structures themselves rather than face court action,” he said.
However, Kosal said that when the initial deadline arrived they refused to remove the buildings. Consequently, he said, the Apsara Authority set a final deadline of Thursday before legal proceedings would be brought against them.
“On Thursday we will know what they will do, and we will implement our work [filing a complaint to court] without any delay. We will also remove the illegal buildings,” he said.
Trapaing Hephka dam, located in Bos Kralanh village, is one of the province’s many areas designated as ancient.
The Apsara Authority is responsible for ensuring the protection and conservation of Cambodia’s national heritage in these ancient areas. It regularly cracks down on all unauthorised construction, digging and changes to the landscape.
Sokhorn, the owner of one of the illegal buildings in question, told The Post that he will remove the structure himself, though he claims it is situated on ancestral land.
“We will remove the building as required in order not to affect our honour and reputation, as I have also done good deeds like building roads. It is a difficult situation to resolve, but we will try to do so following the law.
“Though it is our ancestral land, if they [designate] it as an ancient area, then we have to comply,” he said.
Sun Socheat, the Apsara Authority’s legal representative, told The Post that his lawyers had already prepared documents, should the residents once again fail to comply with the order.
Should the case go to court, he said, the Apsara Authority will cite articles from the Land Law and the Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage to get the buildings removed and have the offenders punished.