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Villagers protest Boeung Tumpun lake project

Villagers from southern Phnom Penh hold maps of Meanchey district yesterday during a protest at the capital’s City Hall, where they voiced their concerns about the filling of Boeung Tumpun.
Villagers from southern Phnom Penh hold maps of Meanchey district yesterday during a protest at the capital’s City Hall, where they voiced their concerns about the filling of Boeung Tumpun. Heng Chivoan

Villagers protest Boeung Tumpun lake project

Thirty people representing 540 families affected by the development of a new satellite city at Boeung Tumpun lake in Phnom Penh gathered in front of City Hall yesterday to demand a solution to their concerns.

The families from Prek Takong I and Khva communities living in Meanchey and Dangkor districts filed a petition on June 7 asking the Ministry of Land Management to intervene in ING Holdings project, after the cases was transferred to City Hall on June 22.

Om Nary, a community representative from Meanchey district, said the villagers were worried they would be evicted from their land and had yet to be informed of the exact plans for the site. “They have been waiting for an answer from City Hall for a week to 10 days and there is no answer yet,” he said.

He said the villagers wanted their land to be excluded from the satellite city, with authorities yesterday telling them a team would be sent to inspect the site. The villagers, some of whom do not have land titles, have been worried about a potential eviction ever since the company started filling the lake with sand in 2012.

Ses Sokkosal, deputy director for legal affairs and human rights at City Hall, said the lake was state property and villagers may have to part with their land to facilitate the development. “Normally, development projects affect people, but we will have to take a look at the documents held by people to decide whether it is legal or not, since it is the state lake,” he said.

Housing Rights Task Force director Sia Phearum added that, according to the law, if people had lived peacefully on the land for five years, then they had a right to the land. “So before the state seizes it for development, the state has to relocate them,” Phearum added.

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