Ratanakiri provincial authorities stopped a group of workers on Wednesday from filling in land near the popular O’ Boeung Kanseang lake in Banlung Town after they allegedly encroached on the natural lake.
Boeung Kanseang district police chief Bou Phang said police halted the activities pending legal clearance after local authorities and residents filed a complaint.
He said Koem Nai, who oversaw the landfilling, claimed to have bought the land many years ago and also possesses a title to the land.
“We stopped them from filling the land as there were criticisms and complaints. We will look more deeply into the case as the land is not adjacent to Boeung Kanseang. It’s a private land. The owner has a land title for a long time and just started to fill it,” he said.
Phang said the land in question is adjacent to the main road, not the lake.
Deputy provincial governor Nhem Samoeun said Wednesday he was not sure who legally owns the land.
He said during the rainy season, the area is flooded, prompting some to believe the land is part of the lake.
“My task force said the land is located near the bank of the O’Boeung Kanseang lake. In the past, we pumped water out of the lake into that area, which served as a water gate."
“I’m not sure who the land belongs to. We’re looking into it. If there is an illegal encroachment on the land, we need to stop it,” he said.
Samoeun said police are awaiting further clarification and verifying the documentation.
“The land might not belong to the state because when the water rises, we release it into that area,” he said.
Banlung Town cadastral office head Bi Chivondara said the land has been under private ownership since 1993.