About 90 Siem Reap families have rejected what they say is a preliminary move by the provincial authority to have them moved off land declared part of Kulen Mountain National Park in 2002.
The families, in Banteay Srei district’s Tbeng commune, said yesterday they had rejected an offer to be moved to unseen land because they feared being moved to an isolated area bereft of infrastructure.
Koe Sophy, a village representative, said the offer had been made during a meeting with provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction officials and Banteay Srei’s district chief.
“Banteay Srei’s village chief said that we must leave if the government wants to develop this area, because we’re living illegally on government land,” Koe Sophy said.
“We settled there in 1997 and we . . . have land ownership documentation.”
Tapan resident Ork Em said he had refused to relocate until he knew the proposed relocation site was adequate.
“I bought this land from another resident, and the district chief agreed to provide me with land ownership,” he said.
“They told people to accept the land, but we need land that is as good for harvesting crops as it is here.
“In our village we have hospitals, schools and pagodas; we really wonder if the new place will have the same things.”
Banteay Srei district chief Meung Vuthy said the government planned to reforest in Kulen Mountain National Park to reverse environmental damage caused by forest clearing.
Meung Vuthy said villagers would be given two hectares for crop-growing at the relocation site, which also had a school and a pagoda.