Four families in Kandal province’s Muk Kampoul district have sued a local official who they accuse of colluding with a village chief to excavate their rice fields without their permission.
The families, from Svay Chrom and Lor Ith villages, filed their complaint to the provincial court in late May, claiming that several workers from a nearby company had been allowed by Khun Sokhem, Prek Dambang commune chief, and Koe Kem, the Svay Chrum village chief, to excavate their land, damaging irrigation systems.
Thach Naren, 59, one of the claimants, said while she was not entirely opposed to the development, the affected families should be properly compensated.
“We are subsistence farmers. We have less than 1 acre and the village chief stole it using the excuse that they are trying to restore water levels in a nearby lake,” she alleged.
Commune chief Sokhem denied the charges, saying the villagers were squatters and did not hold land titles. She added that a campaign had raised 1,000 signatures from locals for the work to go ahead.
Cambodia is currently in the midst of what experts are calling a very severe drought.