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Apsara set to pursue legal action against resident over construction

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The constructions have encroached on cultural heritage land in two locations of the Trapaing Hephka irrigation dyke area. Supplied

Apsara set to pursue legal action against resident over construction

The Apsara Authority will dismantle constructions that have encroached on cultural heritage land in two locations of the Trapaing Hephka irrigation dyke area and forward one of the cases to court because the owner refused to follow the authority’s instruction.

In early October, Apsara Authority’s General Department director-general Hang Pov sent a series of letters to three individuals – Chhit Sodaing, Yun Sokhorn and Pum Sokhunthea – ordering them to dismantle the constructions.

The constructions have encroached on the southern part of the area in Bos Kralanh village, Chreav commune of Siem Reap province.

The Apsara Authority has also taken administrative action, including building a case file to be referred to the court as the residents had failed to cooperate.

Apsara National Authority spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Sunday that after a series of negotiations, one resident agreed to dismantle the construction on his own, but two others still refused to cooperate with the authority.

The Apsara Authority will proceed to take the cases of the two owners to court so that they would be held responsible for encroachment on national cultural heritage land and refusing to follow the authority’s instruction.

“The illegal constructions will be dismantled, but we still cannot set a timeframe. Residents who fail to follow instructions will face legal action.

“Chhit Sodaing agreed to dismantle it on his own, but Yun Sokhorn still refuses to do so. We haven’t met the other resident but we will not allow him to continue with such violation anymore,” Kosal stressed.

Apsara Authority’s legal representative Sun Socheat said that if the authority submitted a complaint to court, the residents would take legal action under articles of the Land Law and the Law on Protection of Cultural Heritage.

Sokhorn told The Post on Sunday that he did not object to dismantling his construction. But he requested the authority reconsider his case and enforce the law equally. He claimed that there are many other constructions in the area, but the Apsara Authority didn’t require them to be dismantled.

“[There is] no law to destroy the properties [construction]. This case is unfair and is a threat against residents,” he claims.

Expressing his dissatisfaction, Sokhorn said he would submit letters to the provincial governor and Prime Minister Hun Sen asking for intervention in the case.

Bos Kralanh village chief Pheach Phong told The Post on October 24 that there are more than 20 families who are all indigenous people in the area. The Trapaing Hephka was only incorporated as an archaeological area in 2015, but the residents have been depending on the area for their livelihood since 1979.

If the Apsara Authority wanted to evict the residents and dismantle the construction, it should be done through more lenient means. They should not be taking legal action against the residents.

“The Apsara Authority is doing it hurriedly. I have asked for enforcement action to be delayed in my case. We should review the situation comprehensively first before enforcing the law.

“As I said, there are only three families who have been ordered to dismantle the construction. We should delay it for discussion and explore all possible solutions first because the residents have lived in the area for a long time,” he said.

Trapaing Hephka was designated an archaeological area and the Apsara Authority is obliged to protect and conserve it as a property of national cultural heritage.

All activities of clearing, building new constructions, digging, destroying, changing the appearance of the archaeological area without permission is akin to destroying national cultural heritage, according to the Apsara Authority.

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