In the first nine months of this year, the Apsara National Authority has approved 879 out of 1,746 applications from villagers living in areas under its jurisdiction to repair and build small houses.
Tasked with managing the Angkor Archaeological Park, the body said in a report released last week that it had approved 106 requests from villagers in Prasat Bakong district, 115 in Angkor Thom district, 185 in Puok district, 167 in Banteay Srei district, and 306 in Siem Reap town.
Oeun Sam Un, the head of Apsara’s Community Secretariat, said the small-scale constructions would not affect conservation works in the area.
“The approval is based on principles that allow for construction and management of houses according to conservation policies for world heritage sites,” he said.
Sam Un said villagers who need to renovate their house are required to submit their applications to the secretariat through the local authorities.
However, Apsara’s spokesman Long Kosal said the body had had difficulties managing constructions in the area as some villagers failed to comply with guidelines.
“Some villagers cooperated well with the local authorities and Apsara’s working group when submitting their requests to construct, repair and renovate their houses. They followed the legal standards set by the authorities.
“But some villagers constructed or renovated their houses or buildings without requesting permission and following legal standards. Some even secretly constructed their houses at night,” he said.
Besides this, Kosal said some villagers had secretly sold their land or cleared forest in conservation zones against Apsara’s policy, which forbids any purchase of land under its jurisdiction.
“Everyday, Apsara’s working groups cracked down on many illegal constructions. We approved less than 1,000 out of the nearly 2,000 requests in the first nine months of this year because some requests were not made properly while some were made by outsiders,” he said.