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Bokor disputes to be overseen by officials

Bokor disputes to be overseen by officials

THE government has formed a committee dedicated to dealing with disputes related to development projects under way at Bokor National Park in Kampot province, though officials said Wednesday that they had found no problems with the projects thus far.

The Inter-Ministries Committee for Reconciliation and Resolving Disputes will act as a monitor for projects at the park, according to the Royal Work Book published on February 15 of this year.

The Bokor site is currently being redeveloped by Sokha Hotel Group, which has plans for an international hotel, casino, resort, park, emergency clinic, school and drainage system. Construction began in 2008 and is expected to take 15 years.

Khoy Khun Hour, the governor of Kampot province and acting deputy president of the committee, said the committee would monitor all activities related to the construction, including disputes.

“So far, we have not found any fault with the project,” he said. “We have observed that people who live near the entrance to the Bokor National Park are very happy with the owner of the newest project, while the employer and employees have made an effort to refrain from impacting on the farmland of the residents.”

Yang Phyrum, the conservation chief at Bokor Mountain, said the road that had already been constructed as part of the project had not prompted any reaction from residents living nearby.

“Until now, the redevelopment project of the French colonial-era resort hasn’t impacted on the natural biodiversity or ecological systems in the park, and the residents are benefiting,” he said.

Meas Sithan, who sells fruit near the park’s entrance, said she believed the project would benefit “the future of Cambodia”, though she said her earnings had fallen since construction began due to declining tourist numbers in the area.

“Now I don’t sell as many oranges, coconuts, rambutan and pineapples because of the lack of tourists,” she said.

Ros Hak, a villager who owns farmland near the mountain, said he was concerned that his land could be threatened by the development project.

Try Chhoun, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said he hoped the Sokha Hotel Group “would distribute the benefits [of the redevelopment] to the people and practice social responsibility”.

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