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Authorities call for halt to public land violation

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Ochheuteal beach at Sihanouk Ville in 2018. Heng Chivoan

Authorities call for halt to public land violation

Provincial authorities on the coast are calling on people to stop violating public land, beaches and water bodies so as to eliminate land disputes, improve the scenery and protect the coastal environment.

The public awareness plan is a part of the authorities’ strategy to promote efficiency on protected government property.

It came after Chea Sophara, Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and chairman of the National Committee on Coastal Area Management and Development, issued a statement on Friday calling on governors of the four coastal provinces, Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong, to follow the government’s Directive 01 to improve coastal area development.

Koh Kong deputy provincial governor Orn Pheareak said in order to improve efficiency in protecting and preserving public lakes, streams, canals, creeks and other water bodies on the coast, provincial authorities have prohibited people from filling government land or cutting down mangrove forests.

“The relevant organisations and the local authority are working together to prevent and crack down on all illegal activities on a regular basis, especially on the issue of taking private ownership of state land by clearing flooded forests and illegally filling natural lakes, streams, canals and other water bodies connecting to the sea,” he said.

Kep provincial governor Ken Satha said the practice of taking public land as personal property mostly occurred on properties without proper transaction paperwork – when buyers and sellers reach an illegal agreement, leading to a skyrocketing of land disputes and the disappearance of state land.

“To eliminate this issue, the provincial authority has issued a number of directives, including prohibiting the buying and selling of land without clear boundaries or transaction records, or without proper recognition from the relevant authorities, and prohibiting all illegal land clearance or the filling of lakes, streams or canals without permission,” he said.

Prak Visal, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall’s international cooperation office chief and head of the local coastal management group, told The Post on Wednesday it was true that the province had recently experienced many public land grabs, with people filling public beaches, lakes, canals, streams and other water bodies and attempting to claim plots as their personal property.

However, he said provincial authorities were now preventing this, and the grabbing of state land was no longer happening.

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