The agricultural director in Mondolkiri province is investigating claims that accuse another government official of seizing 40 hectares of land illegally in the protected Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary and clearing it of trees to grow cashews.
Keo Sopheak, director of the province’s agricultural department was approached by villagers who claimed that Yon Sarom, director of the province’s rural area department, set up a plantation several years ago after unlawfully taking the land.
“We inspected on Tuesday, after the village commune authorities and community claimed he had cleared a lot of forest in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary,” Mr. Sopheak said. “I think he is trying to occupy the land for a plantation. He has already planted some cashew nuts.”
Mr. Sarom was unable to confirm when he bought the land or how much he paid, and said he did not have any documents to prove ownership. He countered that other people were clearing the forest “day and night” and no action was taken against them.