Minister of Interior Sar Kheng issued a directive on Thursday establishing an inter-ministerial working group to study illegal forest land occupation and encroachment of protected areas in Mondulkiri province.
Sar Kheng assigned Minister of Interior secretary of state Ang Mongkul as head of the working group and Ministry of Environment secretary of state Neth Pheaktra as his deputy, along with 11 other members from relevant ministries and units.
“This inter-ministerial working group is tasked with studying each case of occupied forest land in Mondulkiri province and collects documents and evidence for officials,” he said.
The directive states the group has to study and propose proper solution measures for each case accordingly while cooperating with the relevant sub-national authorities.
The working group has to prepare reports on field study results and solution measures and ask Sar Kheng’s permission to decide the case.
Adhoc Mondulkiri provincial coordinator Eang Mengly said it is good that Sar Kheng has set up an inter-ministerial working group to study cases of illegal forest land occupation in protected areas in the province. But he expressed concern over the group’s performance.
“Concerning setting up this inter-ministerial working group, it is important that the Minister of Interior understands that clearing, grabbing and occupying illegal forest land in naturally protected areas is really complicated and systematically collusive,” he said.
He said when illegal forest land had been encroached upon on a large scale in the past, the provincial authorities have never had measures to stop them.
Mengly also called on the inter-ministerial working group to take serious measures against offenders no matter who they are or how wealthy or powerful to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement and cut off all cancerous diseases affecting the sub-national level.