May 9, 2018

Government preparing to give villagers land

The Preah Sihanouk provincial department of land management is preparing to allocate 964.64 hectares of land to villagers in Kampong Seila district.

According to a sub-decree dated March 12 and published in the Royal Gazette earlier this year, the government decided to designate 932 hectares of land for residents while 32.64 hectares will be kept as public property.

“The State Land Management Committee of Preah Sihanouk province will manage and provide private property to 107 families in Kirivoan village, Stung Chhay commune, Kampong Seila district,” the sub-decree said.

It said the land management committee will designate plots of land to be kept for public interests such as infrastructure.

Cheng Srong, director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial department of land management, said yesterday that officials were preparing administrative data and forms to distribute to the residents receiving a portion of the land.

However, he said that for the plots of land in dispute, authorities will coordinate to resolve the issue first prior to distribution.

“We have not yet distributed the land titles to all 107 families because we are cleaning up the data and preparing the forms,” said Mr Srong.

Cheap Sotheary, coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Sihanoukville, said that she supported the government’s resolution in the distribution of land for people but she expressed her skepticism in the efficiency of the execution. She said that the distribution of land is prone to individuals taking advantage of the situation and taking land as their own.

“We don’t actually know yet how many hectares each family will get and what the exact policy on it is,” she said.

“But as for transparency and maintenance of forest cover, it will require the participation of the people living in the area. So when the authorities are measuring the land, people should also participate.”

Last month, Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities provided land titles to 298 families in Kong Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem communes.

The government distributed 523.47 hectares of public land to villagers in the area. Some plots of land were designated as schools, administration offices, commune halls, village headquarters, a military barracks and a pagoda.

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