The Changhaon village community claims that many hectares of mangrove forest in the coastal area in a village in Teuk Chhou district’s Prek Tnort commune, in Kampot province, were being cut down to grab land for private ownership.
However, they claim that the authorities have not taken any measures to stop such activity.
A local who preferred to remain anonymous said five to 10 unidentified offenders had always cut down many hectares of natural mangrove forests at night along the beach. They had even secretly marked the boundary of the land recently without any officials’ knowledge.
Yun Phally, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said: “Cutting down mangrove forests to grab coastal land in the Changhaon coastal area is illegal. The provincial authorities must immediately investigate the case to identify offenders and bring them to justice.”
However, Provincial environment department director Suy Thea told The Post on Monday that he had not yet received information about the case.
“I do not have officials on standby in the area. If there is any information, we will inspect the location because our environment department has only two officials.
“The Changhaon coastal area belongs to the state, which is managed jointly by the Kampot provincial administration,” he said.
Neither provincial Fisheries Administration chief Sar Sarin nor Nak Sovannary, the governor of Teuk Chhou district, could be reached for comment on Monday.
Kampot provincial governor Cheav Tay said on Sunday that he had already ordered a working group to inspect the location, and it had immediately dismantled cottages and fences encroaching into the land.
Changhaon village chief Chhuon Chhan said the mangrove forests in the Changhaon coastal area had always been grabbed, including by some village residents. However, he has not heard of people cutting down mangrove forests to grab many hectares of land.
Sok Chea, the leader of the Changhaon fishing community in Teuk Chhou district’s Prek Tnort commune said that about two months ago some residents had grabbed land to build their houses on the Changhaon coastal area. Since then, there have not been any new cases of land grabbing.