The Apsara Authority on Wednesday reported it had approved more than 500 home construction applications inside Angkor Archaeological Park in the first six months of the year, even as it prepared to raze hundreds of illegally constructed houses inside the sprawling complex.
The government body responsible for managing the world heritage site released a report stating it had approved 541 of 641 applications, while 100 were still pending. Permission had been granted to applicants who had filed the appropriate paperwork and were long-time residents seeking permission to rebuild rather than create new residential plots, Long Kosal, spokesman for the Apsara Authority, said on Wednesday.
“People have a right to remove their old houses and build new ones instead, but before beginning the construction they are required to submit a letter with the Apsara Authority,” he said.
Regarding the removal of the illegally built homes, Mr. Kosal said the committee would take action to remove them, but declined to give an exact date.
Apsara faces criticism and protests from incensed homeowners who say authorities did nothing to prevent the illegal construction of 523 homes and shophouses from May 20 to June 2 in the lead-up to the hotly-contested commune elections last month.
Sin Vuthy, whose home is in line to be torn down, said on Wednesday that he regretted the government’s decision, but that residents were prepared to stand their ground.
“We will ask the Apsara Authority not to remove people’s houses because they took microfinance loans to build them. But if they do not agree, we will protest against the removal,” he said.
pheap@cambodiadaily.com
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