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KRP president alleges land-filling in Kampot

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Dozens of lorries transporting materials to fill into the sea at Kampot province on 29 May 2019. William Guang page

KRP president alleges land-filling in Kampot

Sok Sovann Vathana Sabung, president of the Khmer Rise Party (KRP), alleged that a land-filling activity has been going on in a controversial area currently submerged by the sea in Boeung Ta Pream village in Kampot’s Troeuy Koh commune.

Dozens of lorries transporting materials to fill the area which spans 45.614ha have been seen coming and going “within an hour alone”, Vathana Sabung claimed following his “personal site inspection”.

“It must have cost more than $1 million for the huge amount of soil brought there,” he said.

Vathana Sabung, who is also a member of the consultation forum, claimed he had seen posts planted in the sea to mark the area’s boundary. He also estimated that around 20ha had been filled.

Earlier this week, Kampot provincial governor Cheav Tay was considering whether to revoke the titles for the area.

Tay said on Monday that in 2008, 12 families of shrimp and crab farmers had requested Prime Minister Hun Sen for titles covering 45.614ha, which is east of Phnom Doung island. Officials issued them the titles, but the families later sold the land to brokers.

Owning such land is prohibited under Cambodian law.

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.

In this regard, Vathana Sabung suggested that the local authorities had incorrectly issued titles on such land given that “such procedure is against the Cambodian law”.

He said he had called governor Tay to clarify what he witnessed during his personal visit to the area, but they only spoke briefly as the latter claimed that he was busy.

The Post was unsuccessful in its attempts on Thursday to reach Tay for clarification.

Mom Seab, the village chief, seconded Vathana Sabung’s allegation but said there were not as many trucks in the site as he had claimed.

The activity “has been ongoing for a while. It is difficult to know when it started”, he said adding that so far, he has not received any instructions from his superiors to stop the reclamation.

Vathana Sabung said he will conduct further research on the regulations pertaining to demarcation and land-filling on such land, before writing a report for the government’s perusal.