Thursday, 24 February 2011

Lake residents unveil plan

Photo by: Will Baxter
Employees of Shukaku Inc pump sand into an area previously occupied by homes and businesses at Boeung Kak lake’s Village 1 in December last year.

via CAAI

Thursday, 24 February 2011 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

Residents from the city’s Boeung Kak lake say they will continue to press requests that city authorities grant them on-site housing at the controversial lakeside development, following City Hall’s rejection of a land sharing plan last week.

Boeung Kak representative Ly Mom said that the plan was submitted to municipal authorities late last month, requesting that 15 hectares of land be set aside for residents likely to be displaced.

The plan, which covered 12 percent of the 133-hectare area, envisioned green space, roads and markets in addition to housing for residents, was rejected by Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema on February 17.

“However, we are not hopeless and we will still try making demands until there is a just reply and the win-win policy of the government,” Ly Mom said yesterday during a public presentation of the plan.

In a statement released yesterday, residents claimed that the Boeung Kak project, which is being developed by obscure local firm Shukaku Inc, had violated their legal rights under the Cambodian Constitution and the 2001 Land Law.

Residents at the lake were initially offered three options by the authorities as compensation for leaving their homes: cash compensation, relocation to the outskirts of the city or on-site housing. The statement said that residents preferred the third option, but that no such plans have been made public.

“To get negotiations under way, the remaining 1,000-1,500 families living in the Boeung Kak area have decided to agree to the third option of on-site development,” the statement said. “Because no on-site development plan has been put forward by the company, we have developed our own plan to solve the land dispute between Shukaku Inc and our community.”

The rejection of the land sharing plan constituted a breach in the initial lease agreement signed between Shukaku and the municipality in 2007, the statement added.

“We call on the [Municipality] and Shukaku Inc to reconsider their stance and accept this olive branch the Boeung Kak community is offering,” it said.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said city authorities should review the plan suggested by the lakeside residents.

“City Hall’s rejection could make villagers lose confidence in the government. We want to see the citizens happy rather than cry due to development,” he said.

Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment yesterday. Lao Vann, a Shukaku representative, said that he was not aware of the land sharing plan, but added that the company would not be able to take it on board in any case.

“We just practice the project of the authorities and we have a clear contract, so we will not do anything that is out of the contract,” he said.

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