Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Boundary poles removed in Mondulkiri




Boundary poles removed in Mondulkiri

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Authorities in Mondulkiri province on Friday and Saturday removed some 400 boundary poles planted by villagers around state land reserved to build an airport. NATIONAL POLICE

Boundary poles removed in Mondulkiri

Authorities in Mondulkiri province on Friday and Saturday removed some 400 boundary poles planted by villagers around state land reserved to build an airport, while local people claimed they have legitimate ownership of the land with proof from the local authorities.

The airport land is located in Pou Hyam village in O’Raing district’s Sen Monorom commune, while some of the poles were planted within the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.

Pou Hyam village chief Nhang Myok told The Post on Sunday that most of the poles were planted by villagers in 2016 and 2017 to mark their land boundaries, while a small number were planted in concrete more recently.

He said some of the markers were planted on the land reserved for the airport but the authorities had accidentally removed some boundary poles on land which genuinely belonged to villagers who have legitimate documents.

“The area was bought and sold by people from outside and within the region. However, some of the land transactions were acknowledged by the authorities and some were not.

“Only a small area within the land reserved for the airport has proper land titles which are acknowledged by the village and commune authorities. What can I do? Development always has minor consequences,” he said.

On Friday, Mondulkiri provincial governor Svay Sam Eang led a joint task force – including environmental officials, police and military personnel – to remove the boundary poles which he claimed were planted by ill-intentioned people to violate the airport land and other state protected areas.

“The airport proposal is a collaboration between the civil aviation administration working with provincial authorities.

“They have reserved a plot of land to build the airport covering 900ha in Sen Monorom commune’s Pou Hyam village,” Sam Eang said on the provincial administration’s Facebook page.

Both provincial hall spokesman Sok Sera and provincial administration spokesman Heak Sophan said they could not provide more details because they did not participate in the removal of the poles as they were on a mission in Phnom Penh.

Provincial Environment Department director Keo Sopheak said: “I will investigate further [to find the people who planted the poles within the wildlife sanctuary] and the offenders had better show us the laws that permit them to do that,” Sopheak said.

In early May, Pou Hyam villagers accused the local authority of wrongly demarcating the airport’s boundary, saying it encroached on some 100ha – owned by more than 30 families – some of which had belonged to their ancestors.

A local villager who asked not be named told The Post on Sunday that the concrete poles belonged to traders, while the old wooden poles belonged to local people and were planted a long time ago to identify the boundary of their farms.

The source said their farmland is affected by the airport development proposal and the villagers were asking for reasonable compensation.

“There are four traditional burial plots on the airport site. The authorities should remove the burial plots from the scheme or choose a different location because, according to the beliefs and traditions of the Bunong ethnic group, they’re not allowed to re-locate the burial site,” the villager added.

The source said that on May 28, 63 families from Pou Hyam village collected thumbprints to petition for intervention and another 30 families whose land was located inside the proposed airport site had also joined in because they are concerned they might lose their farmland.

Eang Mengly, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that according to the Land Law, villagers who controlled the land a long time ago have the right to ownership.

“If there’s a need to confiscate their land for development purposes, they have to be compensated accordingly.

“The authorities should investigate very clearly. Whoever has legitimate ownership of the land – and who are hence victims in this case – should be offered solutions according to the law,” Mengly said.

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.