City Hall to Measure Land of Lake Families Fearing Eviction

Phnom Penh will begin measuring the homes of hundreds of families seeking land titles to stave off potential eviction by a massive real-estate project filling in a pair of lakes, a municipal government spokesman said on Tuesday.

The decision followed a closed-door meeting between city officials and some of the 50 or so residents of Meanchey and Dangkao districts who gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday morning to protest the development by ING Holdings and ask for help.

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Villagers gather outside City Hall on Tuesday to protest against a massive real-estate project filling in two lakes in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“They told us they will order municipal officials to discuss with the district governments to find a solution,” said Um Nary, one of the protesters who joined the meeting.

“Now the ING company has added sand, so we are worried it might develop the land in the future.”

Ms. Nary said some of the sand had encroached on land the families are claiming around Choeung Ek and Tompun lakes. Both are part of a 2,600-hectare site ING has been filling in since 2011. The company’s website shows plans to use most of it for its “ING City” project, leaving only part of Boeng Tompun for a natural water reservoir.

Contacted after Tuesday’s meeting, City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said the municipal government would send authorities to the site “soon” but declined to be more specific.

“We decided two points. First, we will order local authorities to do a census. Second, we will order our working group to measure how many meters of those families’ land is impacted by the company,” he said. “In the meeting they claimed that they need land titles. We have not agreed yet, because we need to count how many families are impacted by the company.”

Eang Vuthy, director of the land rights NGO Equitable Cambodia, said ING was likely to encroach on the land of 366 families.

“Even though there is no sign of evictions, the government should cut [their land] from the development plan before the evictions happen,” he said.

When the families first protested in front of City Hall last year, the municipal government told them to take their complaint to the Land Management Ministry.

In March, however, the ministry formally instructed the municipal government to handle the complaint.

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