The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction on Monday held a convention in Phnom Penh to report on its accomplishments for the year, hailing the 263 land disputes it has resolved, and to set its plans for next year.
Ministry secretary of state Theng Chan Sangvar, who read the report, said the ministry received 513 complaints this year. It resolved 263 disputes involving 1,447 families, covering 22,894ha. 140 were rejected as not falling under the ministry’s authority, while 38 cases were withdrawn.
Since the establishment of the cadastral committee, the ministry’s body tasked with resolving land disputes, it has received 8,322 complaints. Chan Sangvar said it resolved 3,938 cases involving 20,937 families, covering 630,484ha.
It rejected 2,689 complaints that were not under the ministry’s authority, while 869 complaints were withdrawn and 826 cases were under investigation.
Chan Sangvar said the ministry was working with villagers and companies that have received land concessions for sugar plantations in provinces including Kampong Speu, Koh Kong, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear.
Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chea Sophara said during the opening ceremony that due to economic development, the government had been thoroughly reformed in order to benefit more people.
Sophara said regulation of coastal development has been a core topic for the ministry. It has repeatedly taken action to protect beach areas in order to ensure sustainable development, the protection of natural resources and to protect state property.
“The ministry has tried very hard to solve land issues through cadastral committees . . . the number of land disputes has reduced, while maintaining social justice and community harmony,” he said.
Phav Nheung, a representative of 175 families locked in a land dispute with Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co Ltd and Koh Kong Plantation Co Ltd, said villagers were happy with Sophara’s intervention to help solve the long-term conflict.
“I want to ask the authorities to help speed up the process of issuing land titles because villagers have not yet received them, while the land has already been measured,” she said.
Phan Thoeun, a representative of 253 people from 149 families in Choam Ksan district’s Kantuot commune in Preah Vihear province, told The Post on Monday he has not received land as promised because officials have been postponing measuring the land for many months.
“The officials only made a verbal promise. So far, there is no result. We have built temporary shacks while we wait for the authorities."
“If the authorities cannot help solve the land dispute, we will continue to demonstrate in front of the ministry over the next weeks,” Thoeun said.
Rights group Adhoc spokesman Soeung Sen Karuna said he welcomes the ministry’s actions to help settle land disputes.
“The authorities must speed up the process of issuing land titles to people, so they can have full legitimacy over their land."
“The authorities must strengthen law enforcement because when land is violated, villagers seek help from law enforcement but law enforcement think only of their own benefit . . . who can people depend on?” Sen Karuna said.