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Villagers seek $275k payout

Villagers seek $275k payout

Villagers living in Mondulkiri’s Sen Monorom district are demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for the loss of thousands of protected resin trees, alleging that a land concessionaire company has been illegally razing community forest since 2012.

Four representatives of the Phnong ethnic group representing more than 160 villagers filed three complaints with rights group Adhoc, according to provincial coordinator Sok Rotha, calling for the provincial court and authorities’ involvement in stopping Villas Development from illegally razing more community forest.

Ki Nhov, one of the four representatives who filed the complaints with Adhoc, said yesterday that Villas Development have been claiming the community forest was legally granted by the government.

“If the forest was granted, why don’t we know anything about it? There is no demarcation yet but the company just said that,” Nhov said, adding that villagers were seeking $250 per tree and that nearly 1,106 resin trees had been felled throughout the district since 2012, amounting to an income loss of $276,500 shouldered by villagers.

ELC Villas Development is co-owned by the wife of provincial deputy governor Yoem Luch, who could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sok Khom, a manager at the company, said yesterday he was unaware of the complaints filed against the firm and that Villas Development was only operating on the land legally granted by the government.

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