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Encroachment on Kirirom park met with crackdowns

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Kampong Speu environmental rangers remove poles and destroy huts in Kirirom National Park on Wednesday. Photo supplied

Encroachment on Kirirom park met with crackdowns

Kampong Speu provincial environment officials on July 15 cracked down on illegal construction and cultivation in Kirirom National Park, confiscating fence posts, barbed wire and dismantling illegally built houses.

In the operation, nearly 1,000 fence posts, barbed wire rolls with a total length of 1,000m were confiscated, and three illegally constructed houses with zinc roofs were destroyed in the park’s Chamkar Te village of Phnom Sruoch district’s Chambak commune.

Provincial environment department director Om Mak Theary said there were two places where land encroachment on state land had occurred in the park – officially named Suramarit-Kossamak Kirirom National Park.

He said in the first location, there were 5,000 wooden fence posts, four rolls of barbed wire with a total length of 600m, a 12sqm house made of wood with a zinc roof.

At the second site there were 400 wooden fence posts, four rolls of barbed wires with a combined length of 400m and two 16sqm houses made of wood with zinc roofs.

“Such activity breaks the law on protected areas … We are searching for the perpetrators to punish them according to the law on protected areas.”

Rath Thavy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said protecting state land by banning and cracking down on cultivation and construction was correct.

“But if the land really belongs to people and the authorities still clamp down without going through the courts, it would not be acceptable,” he said.

However, Mak Theary of the environment department said that according to the report from officials who inspected the locations that there were crops, fences and houses on the sites without permission.

He warned that those who broke the law could be arrested and prosecuted under articles 60 and 62 of the Law on Protected Areas.

If found guilty, violators face imprisonment of between five and 10 years and a fine of up to 150 million riel ($37,000).

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