Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey said that after the traditional Khmer New Year, the provincial administration will launch a data collection campaign to grant land titles to more than 3,000ha of land in Zone III of the Tonle Sap Lake to the people who depend on it.

He made the announcement at a press conference on the province’s achievements in the past five years, held at the Council of Ministers on March 28.

He said Zone III of the lake in his province covers 12,000ha.

“In the past, people dwelt on the land, but it was ceded to the provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology. Now the government orders that it be returned to residents,” he said.

The provincial administration researched the appropriate use for the land, and the government accepted their recommendation that slightly more than 3,000ha be deeded to the families who live on the land.

Reatrey explained that those who occupy half a hectare of farmland will receive 1ha, those who have a hectare and a half will receive 2ha, and so on. No one will receive than 10 hectares.

“Now that the government has consented and issued a sub-decree, a working group will determine the exact measurements of each plot. After the Khmer New Year, we will begin this important work,” he said.

The provincial administration has requested that 20 per cent of the land be provided to individuals and families, and that 10 per cent be retained as shared community land for everyone to use.

Reatrey said 10 villages in Preah Net Preah commune of Preah Net Preah district and Sambour commune of Mongkul Borei district are currently marked Zone II, but on the recommendation of Deputy Prime Minister Chea Sophara – who is also Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning, Construction – 300ha will be re-zoned as Zone II.

“In addition to resolving land issues in Zone III and II, the provincial administration is also preparing land use plans for the entire province, which includes two towns and seven districts. The plan is being developed under the guidance of the land management ministry,” he noted.

He said the plan has been thoroughly examined, but needs several updates before it is revealed to the public.

“A clear master plan will make development and new construction in the province simpler, and will also reduce the number of land disputes we have to resolve,” he said.