Kampot provincial governor Cheav Tay is considering whether to revoke the titles for an area of more than 45ha of land in Troeuy Koh commune’s Boeung Ta Pream village in Kampot town currently submerged by the sea.
Owning such land is prohibited under Cambodian law.
Following an investigation, authorities found that titles existed for the land up to posts that had been planted in the sea marking its boundaries.
Tay said he is considering repossessing the land for the state, but will give authorities time to further research the matter.
“I am contemplating measures to remedy the issue, please give me a little more time,” he told The Post on Tuesday.
On Monday he said that in 2008, 12 families of shrimp and crab farmers had requested Prime Minister Hun Sen for titles covering 45.614ha of land, which is east of Phnom Doung island. Officials issued them the titles.
Boeung Ta Pream village chief Mom Seab told The Post on Tuesday that the government gave the land to the 12 families after they requested it be turned into a tourist nature area to help support their livelihoods.
“They have lived on the land for a long time – since the generation of the late Father King Sihanouk. But being unable to earn a living anymore, they requested the land be converted into a tourist nature area because the nearby mountains, sea and forests would be able to generate income for them,” Seab said.
“They used to build gates in the streams [for farming shrimp and crabs], but now the current breaks them."
“[Hun Sen] considered the villagers’ request to convert the land into a tourist nature area and specialists arrived there to inspect whether or not it would be allowed. [Hun Sen] agreed to it and they issued the titles.”
He said the 12 families then sold the land to brokers.
“They sold the land because they could not [profit from the natural tourist area]. The land has been transferred from owner to owner to the present day.”
The directive on coastal development, signed by Hun Sen in 2012, states that the coast is considered the high tide line. Occupation or construction on land beyond this is prohibited as it is designated a public area.