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Villagers refuse company cash

Villagers refuse company cash

Villagers standing in way of satellite city development in Siem Reap province are holding out for more money from local developer

VILLAGERS from Siem Reap province's Varin district have turned down the compensation offered to them by developer Banya Group Co Ltd, which is building a US$12 billion satellite city 50 kilometres north of Siem Reap town.

Peang Kosal, Banya Group's executive director, said the company had offered villagers $200 per hectare for their land in Utey village, Lvea Kraing commune, but local residents told the Post many families are holding out for more money.  

"I won't accept the compensation of $200 per hectare because it is too cheap," said Hap Heu, a villager of Lvea Kraing commune, adding that around 350 of the village's 500 families had turned down the company's offer.

"We will try our best to keep the land until the company gives us $3,000 per hectare for our orchard land."

Earlier this month, 540 local families lodged complaints with rights group Adhoc over the proposed satellite city, which is to be located on 7,000 hectares of land near the Thai border, but Peang Kosal said around 1,025 hectares of land remained in dispute.

Business as usual

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann said that the legitimate development of the land required agreement between the company, community and local authorities, but said thatthe norm in land dispute cases was for private developers to work with land authorities to strip people of their property.

"Most development projects are marked by collusion between companies and governmental officials, which allow the company to violate people's property," he said.

"Even if all three sides agree, the government has to closely examine the environmental impacts."

"The government has to allow the participation of both foreign and local investors, to ensure the effectiveness of national revenue collection," he added.

But Peang Kosal said that "if they still insist on refusing the company's compensation, we will resort to enforcing the forestry and land laws to allow us to develop the area". 

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