Authorities in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district on Monday denied the claims of some 30 families in Roka Khpos commune that there are plans to confiscate their land to construct a wastewater treatment facility, saying that long-term local residents no longer own land in the area.
District governor Nhim Vandin said on Monday that authorities are studying the impact on local people with a Korean firm that intends to build a water treatment facility for waste flowing out of Takhmao town.
The facility needs some 50ha of land but the authorities do not have sufficient land for the scheme, so they are requesting that residents who are affected allocate their plots to allow the work to commence.
“The majority of people are participating with us and the Korean firm and we are working together without any problems,” Vandin said.
Roka Khpos commune chief Chhoeung Chhou said the scheme would not impact local residents, but it could affect traders who had come from outside the area to buy land.
He said he was unaware of the exact number of such outside buyers but said the authorities did not plan to confiscate their land either.
Var Kimse, the chief of Roka Khpos commune’s Prek Khsev village, said commune and district chiefs had met with residents to discuss the matter on Friday, but no final agreement had been reached.
He said Boeung Reang Lake is a former fishing ground that had been shut down by the government a few years ago, but the land there does not belong to any individuals.
“For the water treatment scheme, the authorities are only planning to take land belonging to the state. There is no impact on local residents’ land."
“Some people’s situation is difficult to understand because some of them have sold land two or three times but still claim it belongs to them. So what complaints will be filed, I am not sure,” Kimse said.
The Post could not reach the 30 families’ representative on Monday but local media outlet Swift News said: “Many families who are legally entitled to land in Roka Khpos commune said the provincial authorities are confiscating their land to use for a wastewater facility.
“They said tens of thousands of hectares of state land in the province have fallen into the hands of private traders.”
Swift News said the authorities have been trying to take the residents’ land by bringing the people together on several occasions and forcing them to hand over their plots without any compensation.
“The residents said they are not willing to donate their land at the request of the provincial authority if they are not properly compensated,” Swift News continued.
Sorn Sophat, who lives in Roka Khpos commune’s Samrong village, told The Post that he used to have land there, but he sold it to a trader in 2016 and he was not affected by the water treatment scheme.
He claimed that perhaps the protesters were traders who had bought the land from people around Boeung Reang Lake and that the residents in the area were not the ones protesting.
“Our residents sold the land. There are no protestors. Maybe it’s only traders from outside the area who are upset,” he said.