The impact of the sub-decree classifying Tumnop Kopsrov and surrounding land as state public property

Tumnup Srov is one of the last remaining lakes in Phnom Penh that is relatively unaffected by development. There are 19 villages[1] located around the lake under, which fall under the administration of 5 Sangkats[2] of 2 Khans[3]. Many residents use this lake and the surrounding area to transplant rice, to fish, and to grow subsidiary crops. This area has not undergone systematic land registration. On 3 February 2016 the national government announced a sub-decree that a 3,239 hectare area covering Tamouk Lake (Tumnup Kopsrov) and surrounding land has been classified as state public property.  According to the Land Law, state public land cannot be owned by anyone other than the State. This therefore raises serious concerns about the tenure security of residents in this areas.

Consequently, between February 8 and 13 2016, STT conducted interviews with all 19 village chiefs, as well as some community members from each area, in order to obtain further information about the sub-decree and better understand the potential implications of this declaration. It was identified approximately 332 families were affected by this decision. More specifically, 147 families both their house and surrounding land falls within the boundaries specified in the sub-decree, while for another 185 families only their land is affected. All 19 villages are affected by this announcement, with 4 villages – Prek Pnov, Samrong Tbong, Anlongkangan, Thom Tbong – falling entirely within the area identified in the sub-decree. The majority of the land affected (approximately 253 hectares) is being used by community members for farming.  As such this sub-decree potentially impacts not only on the tenure security but also the livelihoods of its current residents.

All village chiefs advised that they were unaware of the sub-decree. This demonstrates a lack of communication between the government and the communities potentially affected by this decision, an all too familiar situation in the recent history of Phnom Penh’s land management.

Mrs. Phan Sokhum, a resident of Samrong village since 2000, advised that in 2013 the local authority told people in her village to move out of the area, stating that the village was situated on the public land. However, they did not move and continued to have lived there up until now. STT observed that the houses of 77 families were marked for demolition from this time.  Mrs. Phan Sokhum commented that while she and others in the village had no objection to the development of the area, but fair and proper compensation needed to be considered if they were forced to make way for this.

[1] Prek Pnov, Samrong Tbong, Anlongkangan, Thom Tbong, Beoung Thom, Prey Pongro, Veng, 04 Mouk, Svay Oddom, Trapaing Tateung, Thnal Bonteay, Kantrang, Trapaing Roneam, Koh Rongeang, Prey Svay, Toul, Tnaut Khburs, Trapaing Ampil and Choung Toul

[2] Prek Pnov, Samrong, Ponhea Pon, Khmounh and Ponsang

[3] Prek Pnov and Sen Sok

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