Developer’s Clearing of State Land Not Intentional, Official Says

Controversial land developer Dy Po did not intentionally clear pro­tected flooded forest in Kan­dal province, but was tricked by land brokers into buying the state property, Agriculture Ministry Secretary of State Chan Tong Yves told the National Assembly on Wednesday.

“It was confusion, he didn’t com­­mit any offenses,” Chan Tong Yves said.

“Dy Po bought the land without knowing…[that land brokers] sold the flooded land to him,” he said.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay has for months waged a per­sonal battle against what he claim­ed was Dy Po’s efforts to clear some 1,700 hectares of protected flooded forest in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district.

On March 14, Agricultural Minister Chan Sarun ordered Dy Po not to buy land from villa­g­ers in the district or employ any other means of encouraging them to destroy the flooded forest, which becomes an important fish breeding ground during the wet season.

Chan Tong Yves said that the Agri­culture Ministry has filed le­gal complaints at the Kandal Prov­incial Court against two Kom­pong Os commune councilors involved in the forest’s de­struc­tion.

He added that Dy Po had clear­ed some flooded forest, but that it was land owned by villagers and that the clear­ance was done at their re­quest.

“He didn’t do it for his own benefit,” Chan Tong Yves said.

Dy Po reiterated his innocence when contacted by telephone, and chal­lenged Son Chhay to provide evidence that supported his allegations of wrongdoing.

“If Son Chhay has enough evidence that I destroyed flooded for­est [in my land], file a complaint to the court,” he said.

 

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