Kratie authorities said they would take back and redistribute state forest land that was cleared by encroachers.
Provincial governor Va Thorn said on Monday that authorities had gone to investigate the area, in Chet Borei district’s Chang Krang commune, and found encroachment on about 500 hectares.
Authorities were searching for those involved to take legal action, he said, but also added that the perpetrators included poor people and the land would be divided up for them.
“We confiscated the land and turned it into social land because the perpetrators also included poor people,” Thorn said. “We cannot come to clear the state forest land like that.”
Chet Borei deputy district governor Sorn Chamrong said the size of the clearing was only around 21 hectares. But authorities had filed a court case against an unidentified perpetrator over the illegal clearing, he said.
“When we went down, there was no one, no people or machinery,” Chamrong said.
Chang Krang commune chief Penh Pov declined to comment, saying she was busy.
Prum Doeun, a member of a committee managing Chang Krang’s community forest, said hundreds of hectares of forest were being cleared and resold. He added that commune officials should be investigated into whether they are involved in selling land.
“Those who did this are only the rich and powerful. We are poor people, and if we cleared it, we would be in jail.”
(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)