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Preah Sihanouk probes land clearing for economic zone

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Machinery used to clear a mountain in Kampong Seila commune of Preah Sihanouk province’s Kampong Seila district. CNRO

Preah Sihanouk probes land clearing for economic zone

A joint working group of the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration is inspecting a site at Bak Kang Mountain, which was designated state public property in 2002 but is now being cleared by a private company.

The NGO Cambodian National Research Organisation (CNRO) said the land clearing is illegal and urged the provincial authorities to take action.

CNRO director Sok Sokhom told The Post on June 21 that the firm, Kampong Seila Special Economic Zone Co Ltd, had taken soil from the mountain to fill a construction site in Borey Lily gated community in Veal village of Kampong Seila district’s Kampong Seila commune several days ago.

“On behalf of civil society, I request that the government, through the provincial administration which chairs the provincial land management committee and relevant departments, thoroughly investigate this case and take strict legal action,” he said.

He alleged that the local authorities had facilitated the process of getting a permit from the provincial administration for the company to clear the mountain instead of taking action against it.

“In this case, the provincial authorities should not have facilitated the request, instead it should have taken the strictest legal action,” he said.

Provincial hall spokesman Kheang Phearom confirmed to The Post that the working group led by deputy governor Kong Vitanak inspected the site on June 21.

The working group, formed by Provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun in a directive on June 16, is tasked with inspecting and measuring the proposed excavation site next to the mountain as requested by Keo Mom, chairman of the company’s board of directors.

Mom requested to excavate an area of approximately 50ha near the foot of the mountain in order to fill more than 300ha of land in Kampong Seila commune to develop it into a special economic zone. The zone will have a SME cluster and modern agriculture, the firm said.

Chamroeun said the 300ha of land could not be developed into an economic zone because it is located in a low-lying area which required the company to fill the land.

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