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Preah Sihanouk officials warn land thieves to leave State land

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Prey Nob and Stung Hav districts in Preah Sihanouk province have seen a recent uptick in land grabs. Photo supplied

Preah Sihanouk officials warn land thieves to leave State land

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall has announced it will take action against land encroachments after a recent rise in such activities.

Spokesman Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that logging and encroachment on State land were on the rise, especially in the Prey Nob and Stung Hav districts.

“The provincial administration does not support such illegal acts and we are asking those behind the activities to withdraw immediately,” he said.

Phearum said the activities on public and private land come at the same time the government announced it will allocate land to people who live on land controlled by the ministries of Environment, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. This brought opportunists.

Two people were arrested on July 24 for clearing and encroaching on State land in Prey Nob district. The police questioned them and determined they were not the masterminds. The two were asked to sign a contract to stop such activities before being released.

The same day, the Sihanoukville Department of Environment released a statement on the occurrence of encroachment on State land in Bit Traing commune, Prey Nop district.

“During an operation to prevent land encroachment on July 24, authorities found a group of 30 people removing forest, growing crops, building cottages, and marking a land boundary as their ownership,” according to the statement.

Cambodian National Research Organisation (CNRO) director Sok Sokhom said encroachment on State land in Stung Hav district has been happening for a long time, but there has not been any effective way to prevent it.

“The authorities have acted on this issue, but land encroachment in protected areas in Stung Hav district still happens,” he said.

Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on Sunday that teams from the ministry are working in collaboration with Preah Sihanouk officials and other provinces to investigate people occupying State land in protected sites.

“The ministry created teams to investigate and compile documents related to land that citizens are occupying in all provinces. It also includes Preah Sihanouk province,” he said.

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