KAMPONG Thom provincial authorities have launched an investigation into the ownership of 823 hectares of land in the province’s Kampong Svay district, following a dispute between more than 200 families and a private company.
District governor Em Thorn said yesterday that local authorities had begun investigating the disagreement on Wednesday and had so far found that 36 families across four villages had a genuine claim to the land, while other families were newer to the area.
A total of 225 families have protested since 2005 after the Duong Heng Company received a government land concession to develop 1,917 hectares in the province, Em Thorn said. Villagers are claiming ownership of an 823-hectare plot of land in the concession area.
“There were 225 families from four villages in Sankoa commune that protested against the company on July 8 [this year] and we negotiated with them and promised to find out who the real landowner was,” Em Thorn said. “We decided to create a committee to investigate this case.”
Em Thorn said that the land had been abandoned until 2000 when villagers started to plant watermelons in the area. “We will try to find out who owns the land for the real families and we will provide [the land] to them,” he said, adding that officials had met with villagers to discuss the case.
Chhuong Run, provincial researcher for rights group Licadho, said yesterday that local authorities had not yet concluded their investigation. Representatives from Duong Heng Company could not be reached for comment.