Villagers seek intervention in Kampong Chhnang airport land row

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Villagers from Kraing Leav comune’s Patlang village in Kampong Chhnang are living on land the government plans on using for an airport. Photo supplied

Rolea Ba’ier district governor Yong Saovuthy said on Wednesday that 147 houses that have been surrounded by fencing in Kraing Leav commune’s Patlang village, in Kampong Chhnang province were built on State land that was set aside for airport development.

“Villagers want to submit a joint petition to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction asking for land titles, but the government has already addressed this issue once before,” he said.

He said the government distributed the titles in the area surrounding the airport on October 27, 2012.

It also announced it was retaining 1,415ha to develop a future airport in the commune. However, some residents still lived on the land, which posed an obstacle to the development process.

Villager Ung Lom, 50, said her house was surrounded with a fence built by Air Force soldiers. She said families have no land in other places to cultivate crops if their houses are reclaimed by the authorities. “My family has lived and relied on this land since 1986,” she said.

Another villager Kim Chanthorn, 49, said he requested that the ministry inspect the area and grant legal titles for residents.

“In the past, the authorities already granted land titles to some residents in Kraing Leav commune. But those of us who live in this airport area have not yet been granted the titles,” he said.

Chanthorn said the authorities previously told villagers they could live and rely on the land for their livelihood until the government made a decision, and then the authorities would seek a solution for them accordingly.

Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction director in Kampong Chhnang, Ly Sophea, said the provincial authorities on Wednesday assigned experts to study the case and check out the actual situation of the residents to address the matter.

“The villagers are living in a public location designed for airport development in Kraing Leav commune. The local authorities are in the process of addressing the matter,” he said.