S’ville Authorities Demolish Official’s Villa

Sihanoukville authorities on Saturday demolished a villa belonging to a local land management of­fi­cial that they alleged was polluting the city’s water supply, Si­ha­noukville officials said Sunday.

The Mittapheap district villa, owned by Khat Bunna, chief of Mit­­tapheap district’s land title of­fice, was demolished because two se­wage pipes ran directly from the re­­sidence into a reservoir that provides water to Sihanouk­ville, mu­ni­ci­pal Deputy police Commissioner Yin Bunnath said.

He also claimed that Khat Bun­na did not have a legal title for the land.

Sihanoukville Governor Say Hak said last week that he had re­ceived orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen to knock down Khat Bun­na’s villa if he did not dismantle it himself.

Khat Bunna refused.

Khat Bunna denied Sunday that he was polluting the reservoir and said Say Hak had approved his re­quest for ownership of the land on Dec 19, 2003.

He also complained that authorities should have given him time to make any necessary changes to his villa instead of demolishing it.

“I built because the municipality authorized me,” he said. “Where is the law?”

But Say Hak said Sunday that he only gave Khat Bunna permission to apply for ownership of the land and that his application was re­­jected because the land be­longed to the state.

Deputy district police chief Kheng Sophal on Sunday said that others would also build illegally on the land and dump sewage into the reservoir if Khat Bunna’s villa was not torn down.

He said, however, that Khat Bun­na was not the only culprit and that authorities should take action against squatters in other areas.

He also said that the measures taken against Khat Bunna might have been too severe.

Say Hak said the reservoir where Khat Bunna built his villa used to contain 1 million cubic me­ters of water but that illegal construction had reduced its capacity to just 600,000 cubic meters, hardly enough to meet Sihanoukville’s ex­panding water needs.

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