Villagers Agree to Remeasuring of Disputed Land

Villagers caught in a land dispute with an agribusiness firm in Kompong Speu province Wednesday attempted to reclaim farmland they say is theirs, but were thwarted by provincial authorities, who appeased them by promising to measure the land again.

About 250 families in Phnom Sruoch district claim that Master International Corporation Group took over 950 hectares of their farmland beginning in 2006. Local officials say the land was part of an economic land concession granted to the company.

About 100 villagers, equipped with tarps and various other materials to set up temporary shelters, briefly attempted to occupy the land Wednedsay.

“Today, we want to take our land back but we could not,” said villager Phoeun Thea. “The deputy governor came to speak with us to find a better resolution.”

Rath Thavy, Adhoc’s provincial monitor, said villagers wanted to reoccupy the land because Master International was only using a fraction of their 950-hectare economic land concession for cassava plantation. About 400 hectares remain unused, she said.

District governor Pich Chantha said Mr. Dara, his deputy, met with the villagers and promised to work toward settling the dispute, but said giving them land on the concession was out of the question.

He declined to explain how measuring the land again would fix the problem.

“We cannot say anything because that land has already been provided to that company by provincial authorities for the economic land concession,” he said.

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