Kampong Speu province is set to reclaim land in the Kirirom National Park after accusations from locals that environmental officers had encroached on 2ha of it.
The statement came from provincial governor Vei Samnang who vowed to get to the bottom of the matter.
The dispute began when a letter containing the thumbprints of nearly 20 residents was sent to a commune chief claiming that the signatories are witnesses in Chambak commune’s Thmei Village.
The letter claimed that Heng Sokha, a Kirirom National Park official in Thmei Village and his son-in-law Mang Sovan Tara, an official in Bek Chan commune in Kandal province, had taken 2ha in the disputed area.
Chea Tit, the deputy head of the Kampong Speu Department of Environment in charge of the Kirirom National Park, told The Post on Wednesday that he and a working group were investigating the case.
A Fresh News report on Sunday said that Sokha and Sovan Tara had disputes with residents over the land in Thmei Village until the residents notified the authorities.
The complaint came after Sokha and Sovan Tara showed a letter of buying and selling land in the village but the two were accused of destroying fences and occupying the land.
ACNCIPO director Chea Hean, who is investigating the case, told The Post on Wednesday that all parties are usurpers.
“They sign occupation letters transferring ownership to other residents, making the letters overlap. Environment officials don’t know how to deal with illegal practices. This is a problem,” he said.
Hean said when the investigation is completed, he will build a case file to request the provincial governor reclaim the land as state property.
The provincial governor said the province must reclaim the land.
“Don’t quarrel over state land. When they pretend to quarrel like this, they let the authorities solve it. Once we solve it, we set aside land to these people or those people.
“But in fact, that land belongs to the state. Be informed that we don’t support anyone – officials, generals, the people. State land has to be reclaimed,” Samnang said.
He said after Prime Minister Hun Sen announced recently that the government would grant land occupation rights to citizens who have long lived on state land, some opportunists had secretly built houses in the Kirirom National Park area.