Local authorities in Kratie met Tuesday with 301 families who were recently given a social land concession in Snuol district to discuss how to deal with an influx of hundreds of villagers who are also hoping to live on the land.
The 750-hectare concession was granted to the 301 families earlier this month after they mounted a sustained campaign against what they said was their unjust eviction at the hands of a Vietnamese rubber company.
Although they had mostly migrated to the area in 2008 from other provinces in search of empty land, the families’ impassioned protests in Phnom Penh—where they camped out at Samakki Raingsey pagoda and drew immediate support from opposition party leaders—convinced officials to grant them the concession.
Soon afterward, however, nearly 500 other families flocked to the area to register for a place on the 750 hectares, also drawn by the lure of free land.
At Tuedsay’s meeting, representatives of the 301 families said they would not share the land concession with the new families, some of whom migrated from neighboring Tbong Khmum province after they heard about the concession.
“We need to solve the problem first for the 301 families,” said Ngoun Vibol, a representative for the group.
He suggested that local authorities find another land concession for the 491 new families, but district governor Kong Kimny said this was not going to happen.
“Our authorities will not be able to offer land to the increased number of registered families, because the size of the land is for 301 families only,” he said.
Lim Chandy, part of the group of original families, said the situation was frustrating both groups of villagers.
“The original villagers are unhappy at the increased figure because they worry about the loss of their share of land,” he said.
“I understand that people who do not receive the land will also be unhappy, but what can we do for them? The government granted 750 hectares for 301 families only.”