Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities have told residents around the Kbal Chhay waterfalls to leave the area or risk being ejected, amid concern over pollution of the popular tourist attraction.
According to recently appointed Governor Yun Min, residents are living in the area in violation of Decree 76, passed by the national government in 1997, designed to protect more than 6,000 hectares of forest and waterways in the area.
“We told them to move their houses now in order to avoid being moved by the authorities,’’ Min said yesterday, adding that residents have been offered land in Stung Hav district in Sihanoukville.
Boun Narith, a coordinator for rights group Licadho, said many of the some 1,000 families live in the area legally.
“We are not yet clear how many of the residents encroached on state land”, he said. “It could be 30 to 40 per cent [of the local population].”
According to resident Chan Van, they are seeking guarantees about their new destination before moving.
“We want the authorities to find a solution for us before moving us,” he said.