Negotiations Underway Following Demolition Order for Angkor Area Houses, Shops

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Three visitors, including foreigners, climb stairs near Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province on March 31, 2022. (Roun Ry/VOD)
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Authorities say hundreds of families have volunteered to relocate from the Angkor Archaeological Park area following a warning to demolish houses and shops, but others say they are still in the midst of negotiations and are reluctant to leave.

The Land Management Ministry had counted more than 8,000 illegal constructions in the park, Land Minister Chea Sophara said last week as he threatened arrest for any residents who protested a demolition order.

Unesco has listed the 400-square-km Angkor Archaeological Park as a world heritage site since 1992. In his speech, Sophara said Unesco had issued warnings about such construction on two occasions in the Angkor area since 2017, adding that the government does not want to receive a third warning.

According to a Thursday post on the Land Ministry Facebook page, about 34 shops for tourist wares in Srah Srang village were removed voluntarily by their owners as part of the ongoing campaign to clear unapproved structures.

The ministry said on Facebook that 737 families who properly removed their shops have been provided new locations in a development called Angkor Eco Village, about 21 kilometers northwest of Srah Srang. Two villages will participate in a land lottery for space at Angkor Eco Village.

The ministry also issued a statement about three other areas around Angkor where volunteers removed their structures. The ministry stated it provided these individuals with a new place to operate.

Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal couldn’t be reached for comment, but last month he told VOD that unapproved construction needed to be removed as it would impact the temple environment. 

About 60% of residents had agreed to remove their structures, and about 20% had disagreed. Kosal said he was not sure about the remaining 20%.

Some food vendors around Srah Srang on Thursday said authorities had just come that day and told them to remove their shops. The vendors said they want officials to provide them with an alternative space before demolishing their restaurants, as some said they have lived on the site and maintained business there for many years. They were still trying to negotiate with officials for a deal they could be happy with, some said.

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