The Koh Kong Provincial Administration has decided to grant land for housing and farming as part of the government’s land allocation policy to 131 families who have been affected by a development project of Sinomex Sim, a private firm, in Botum Sakor district’s Andong Teuk commune.

The decision was made during a meeting led by deputy provincial governor Sok Sothy with relevant authorities on May 25.

“Having studied the problem, we see that there were instructions from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and the Ministry of Environment. We recognise them as residents of Chi Treh village and grant them land for houses and farming,” he said.

Sothy noted that land measuring 20m by 70m will be provided to each family living on the first road and 20m by 100m for those living on the second road of the village. Each family would also be granted 1.5ha for farming.

The land would be carved out of the Botum Sakor National Park, which is currently under the jurisdiction of the provincial administration.

Most households were satisfied with the decision.

“They showed enthusiasm for this [land allocation] policy so long as there are no troublemakers behind the dispute,” he said, referring to those who have allegedly incited the villagers to grab state land.

“The troublemakers are buyers, sellers and land encroachers in the area. Our provincial administration does not recognise the land of those individuals,” Sothy said.

Provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc Thong Chandara welcomed the move:

“We are glad with the policy for allocating land to the families. But what we are concerned about is the allocation of land, whether it is carried out in an equitable manner,” he said.