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Capital residents worry health centre plan is a land grab

Residents gather at a local pagoda to voice their opposition to the loss of land that they say they use for community gatherings. Photo supplied
Residents gather at a local pagoda to voice their opposition to the loss of land that they say they use for community gatherings. Photo supplied

Capital residents worry health centre plan is a land grab

Hundreds of residents of a village in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district yesterday protested the possible loss of community land.

The villagers said the 10-acre plot at Plerng Ches Rotes commune’s Tuol Kei village had a building that served as a community centre and recreation hall.

They feared if the land was sold, they would have no place to gather or hold ceremonies.

“The area and the building belong to all the villagers together but the local authority wants to sell it,” said Chan Sna, one of the protesters.

However, commune chief Kang Rum said that the authorities had no intention of selling the land to any private interests.

Instead, the Ministry of Health intended to build a health care centre on the land, which would remain under government control, he said.

“How can I sell it? It is not easy to sell land and buildings,” he said. “I don’t know why they accused [the authorities]. They did not want a health centre in their village.”

A Ministry of Health spokesman said he did not know about the plan and suggested the local health department might.

A municipal health department spokesman declined to comment yesterday and deferred to district leaders, who could not be reached for comment.

Concerned villager Seng Nong said that she and her neighbours found the health centre plan hard to believe and the officials should find another location.

“We also need the place for our gatherings,” she said.

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