Around 40 families in Kandal province said the government had cleared their farmland without any notice or compensation, with a local official saying the land will be used to construct a canal and dirt road.
Families from three villages in Khsach Kandal district’s Svay Romiet commune said authorities began clearing land on June 25. Seng Vorn, one of the affected village residents, said each family had lost around 10 to 50 meters in width of farmland along a road.
He said village residents were not opposed to the government’s development plans, only that they should have been informed or purchased the land from them before it was cleared.
“I do not oppose the development plan but I bought this land from others. I borrowed the money from the bank to buy it and I have not paid back all of it yet,” he said. “So, what do I do if you come and take it straight away?”
Suon Taing, a resident from Svay Damnak village, said he too was in debt over the land and had lost a 10- to 20-meter-wide strip of land. He said authorities were reluctant to help them.
“Now, you used machinery to clear 10 to 20 meters of my land and did not inform us with a single word,” he said.
Lim Keang, Svay Romiet’s commune chief, said the Ministry of Water Resources was building a canal and dirt road on the land, and he asked if the ministry should compensate residents. The ministry said there was no policy to provide compensation, he added.
“So this is the principle of the ministry and not of the commune. I already asked the ministry and [they said they] had no principle to give compensation for affected people,” Keang said.
Ministry of Water Resources spokesperson Chan Yutha could not be reached for comment.
In a separate case, seven families accused a police official of infringing on their land in Kampot province’s Toek Chhou district. The families said the police officer had encroached on their 1-hectare rice field and was not preventing them from using the land.
Phat Ratha, from Kampong Samraong commune’s Trapaing Kanchhet village, said Phuong Marin, the police officer, had been building a house on their land since 2020 and threatened the village resident last Thursday.
“I was accused of destroying someone’s crops. Actually, it is my land,” he said.
”He does not have the land and the newly-filled up earth is also not belonging to him but he encroached on it. Little by little, he took all of that land.”
VOD could not reach Kampong Samroang commune chief Cheav Neang or Marin.
Chab Dul, Kampong Samroang’s commune police chief, said Marin had lived on the land for two years and village authorities allowed him to live there because he had no land for a house.
“That police official came to live for two years already. We did not allow him to live but he is also a police officer. So the village [authority] has understanding [because] he did not have land.”