Phnom Penh municipal hall issued the first set of land titles for 259 families living around Boeung Kak lake on Saturday, bringing hope and relief to some, but leaving many concerned for those still waiting. In accordance with a government sub-decree issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen in August, families from villages 6, 23 and 24 in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune were granted land within a 12.44-hectare resettlement area set aside for 794 families who had refused offers of compensation. Kong Chantha, 54, of village 24, told the Post yesterday that she was delighted after receiving a land title from municipal authorities.
“I was very happy because this certificate [land title] is a new hope for my family in the future,” she said, adding that she and other residents had spent almost four years demanding land titles. In 2007, developer Shukaku Inc – run by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin – signed a 99-year lease with the municipality for 133 hectares of land around the lakeside for a real estate development. Rights groups estimated more than 20,000 people faced relocation due to the project. Remaining residents from villages 1, 6, 22 and 24 have continued to protest since the resettlement deal was announced, after they were initially cut out of the deal.
Last week, a protest in the capital turned violent, with several villagers injured and four – including Kong Chantha – arrested and charged by the municipal court with insulting and obstructing public officials. Villagers remained concerned yesterday about families who had not yet received land titles and with ongoing development in the area. Vong Sok Heng, a representative of village 6, said more than 30 families in his village had not received titles because their measurements of their plots of land were inconsistent with those of the authorities’. “The authorities did not correct [the difference] in land size after measurement,” she said.
Tol Srey Pao, of village 24, said the authorities planned to build a sewage system and roads in the area in the future, which could again affect local residences. Kiet Chhe, deputy administrative director at municipal hall, said the provision of land titles for lakeside residents was not yet complete. “At the end of December, the municipal hall will continue to issue land titles for other Boeung Kak lake residents,” he said. Deputy commune chief In Saphorn said land titles would next be provided for roughly the same number of families in villages 20, 21 and 22.