The Banteay Meanchey provincial administration appealed to residents not to be cheated into grabbing land in the Tapen 2 Forest Restoration and Broadcast Station at Svay Chek district’s Slakram commune.
Governor Um Reatrey told The Post on Tuesday that a provincial administration investigation found that residents from several areas had been cajoled into measuring and dividing land, building makeshift huts and installing boundary markers “in an anarchic manner on private land and State land”.
“We will take legal action against the ringleaders who are encouraging people to carry out illegal activities. We [the provincial administration] have already issued a notice to cease the activities, but if [they] continue their activities, we will take legal action.
“We have also gone down [to the site] to prevent the crimes and have also issued a notice to the villagers calling on them not to be cheated by the scheme’s ringleaders,” Reatrey said.
The notice, issued by the provincial administration on Monday, said: “All makeshift huts and boundary markers must be removed from the private land belonging to private citizens and the Tapen 2 Forest Restoration and Broadcast Station, and [the people to] return to their respective homes.
“All district administrations and relevant provincial departments must continue to educate and spread the notice to local people so that they will no longer be cheated.
“The provincial administration will take administrative measures against the masterminds and their group who claimed to be authorities to create areas to be governed by them, without being recognised by the authorities.
“If any individual subverts the implementation of this notice, [he/she] will face legal action and [the administration] will not be responsible for any loss.”
Svay Chek district governor Loeung Sopheak said that land grabbers had been seizing State-owned and privately held land in the Tapen 2 Forest Restoration and Broadcast Station since early last year.
Sopheak said the land grabbers had built more than 300 small makeshift huts and burned down farms to install boundary markers.
“There has been widespread land grabbing [in the area] for around a week – to the point that they grabbed the legally held land of people who hold a hard title. These reprehensible people were not afraid of the law and planted trees on State land and private land,” he said.
Adhoc provincial coordinator Sum Chankea told The Post he supported the provincial administration in cracking down on the land grabbers.
“They [land grabbers] are from various provinces. [They travel] to grab State land governed by the forestry administration with their ringleaders because they live [across Cambodia] and are not well aware of where it is possible to grab land.
“If these people don’t have land to live on, they should apply to the provincial administration under the law to ask for a social land concession. If they can collectively travel to grab land like this, it gives the impression the country has no law,” Chankea added.