The governor of Samrong city, Oddar Meanchey province, issued a letter on Tuesday, ordering villagers to remove huts, houses and other structures from the Roluos Thom Natural Eco Tourist Site, after allegedly moving onto the land illegally.
“Villagers who have built huts and houses illegally on the land of Roluos Thom Natural Eco Tourist Site must leave the area as their actions can deter tourists from visiting,” the letter from Governor Un Sopheal reads. Villagers have been told to vacate the area before June 6.
“They must remove all construction and buildings at the site, or the authorities will use excavators to forcibly remove them and not be held responsible for damages to personal property,” he said.
Responding to the city authorities, Srey Naren, a coordinator in Oddar Meanchey for NGO ADHOC, agreed that the villagers must move from the tourist site, as they are there and building structures illegally.
However, Naren appealed to the authorities to consider providing land as a social concession to the villagers.
“The people are poor, that’s why they entered the tourism site to plant some crops for an income. If they were rich or had land, they would not stay there illegally, so the government should provide them with state land outside of the tourist area so they can continue growing crops.
“The government previously said it won’t let people die of hunger, and we know that some state land is available in the city,” Naren said.
In a telephone call, Sopheal told The Post on Wednesday that the authorities would look into granting the villagers a social land concession.
“The families who moved into the area grabbed land for themselves and used it to grow crops. We will check on this, and if we confirm they are poor and have no land, we will ask the provincial governor to give them some land as a concession.
“But if we find they have land and are not poor, we will not offer them anything,” Sopheal said.