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Kandal villagers demand land lost to EDC’s project

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The demonstrators represent 200 families from the communes Chheuteal, Koki and Dei Ith. Supplied

Kandal villagers demand land lost to EDC’s project

Over 50 villagers from Kandal province’s Kien Svay district gathered outside the provincial hall on Wednesday to protest against a decision by local authorities to strip them of their land.

The demonstrators represent 200 families from the communes Chheuteal, Koki and Dei Ith.

Chhay Bona, 60, one of the demonstrators, told The Post she lived on the land in question since 1980 with the approval of the authorities at the time.

However, she and her family were displaced by a project by the Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) last year. The public utility company promised the affected families compensation, but the provincial authorities refused to issue the land titles they needed to prove ownership.

“We are here to ask EdC to compensate us for its project on our land. We ask that the villagers are given titles for their land. It is very difficult to sell the land because we lack the necessary documents,” she said.

Koy Vat, another villager, told The Post that the authorities have listened to their demands and have promised to solve the dispute.

“If the land belonged to the state, why did previous administrations sign those documents? Why are they now accusing us of living on state land? If no solution is found, we will start protesting at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction until our demands reach Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said.

Koki commune chief Kong Chheng said the administration previously considered that the land belonged to the villagers, but this changed when the plots were added to a nearby lake.

“In the past, the government had not demarcated where the area belonging to the lake ended. However, recently they issued an announcement that said most of the disputed land belongs to the lake,” he said.

Provincial governor Kong Sophorn said a working group is now studying the case. “Our team is meeting the villagers. We will study the case and present a solution as soon as possible,” he said.

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