Committee Tells Paper Giant To Return Land

An interministerial committee has ordered Wuzhishan LS Group to turn over thousands of hectares of land in Mondolkiri province originally reserved for a Japanese rubber plantation but planted with pine trees by the Chinese company, an official said Tuesday.

“The Wuzhishan company is plant­ing on 80 percent of the Japan­ese company’s land,” said Nuth Sa An, Interior Ministry secretary of state and head of the committee. “The committee wants Wuz­hishan to withdraw from Maru­beni’s land.”

The Agriculture Ministry reportedly agreed last year to set aside 10,000 hectares for Marubeni De­velopment Corp until the UN could determine whether the rubber plantation would serve as a credit for Japan’s Kyoto Protocol commitment. Nuth Sa An confirmed the Japanese company had already conducted studies on the site, and finding new land for the company would be difficult. He said the Agriculture Ministry has been charged with ironing out final de­tails between the two companies.

Agriculture Minister Chan Sar­un said he was in a meeting Tues­day; and Forestry Administra­­tion head Ty Sokhun could not be reached for comment.

Nha Rang Chan, Mondolkiri’s third deputy governor, said Sun­day that the provincial committee determined Wuzhishan had planted 16,000 hectares of the land with pine trees, 7,000 of which be­longed to Maru­beni.

Nuth Sa An said the committee has had difficulties negotiating with villagers, but he was confident an agreement could be made and said the company will be re­quired to build fences around its concessions to keep from encroaching on villagers’ land again.

Villagers in Sen Monorom commune in O’Reang district have asked for 3 km of land around their commune while villagers in Dak Dam commune in Sen Monorom district have asked for 10 km.

Masahilo Matsushita, Maru­beni’s project manager, said the committee’s decision was “good news for Marubeni.” How­ever, he said, the company is still waiting for the UN to approve the project, and experts will be called in to de­termine whether the land al­ready planted with pine trees can still be used for rubber.


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