Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

Land survey worries residents, sparks fears of relocation

Vientiane Times, 30 April 2014

Vientiane authorities are currently making a survey of land surrounding a rebuilt road in Xaysettha district of Vientiane but the future use of the land remains unclear, sparking concerns among local residents. Deputy District Governor of Xaysettha Mr Phouttaphone Khotpanya told Vientiane Times on Tuesday the survey was covering a stretch of land 11 kilometres long and 50 metres wide on both sides of the road.

The three villages of Nahai, Dongkhamxay and Xiengda are located along this road in the That Luang marsh area and more than 80 percent of the land is already developed with houses. The survey work has raised some concerns among the residents who fear that this may lead to them being relocated but there is no suggestion of this happening at the moment.

“We are not planning to take the land away from the people, we’re only surveying it to prepare for further development in the area someday,” Mr Phouttaphone said. One reason for the authorities to carry out the survey in the three villages is because they want to know how many plots of land are owned by the state and how many are privately owned. They will also determine how many of the plots have been obtained legally.

Mr Phouttaphone said the survey work began last week and will be finished next week when they will submit a report of their findings to the Vientiane Mayor. Once this survey has been completed there will be no more for the time being as nothing has been scheduled, he said.

Residents only learnt of the survey at the last minute after an announcement was made and then relayed by the village heads, but no further details were given, sparking concerns among residents that they were being left in the dark. However, residents were very pleased to see that the workers were laying a drainage channel and some parts of the road had been rebuilt with concrete but became worried when they saw Vientiane authorities counting the plots of land. Families in these villages are now frightened, worried that the authorities will grab their land.

They may not have had these concerns at all if the Vientiane authorities had said from the beginning that they were only conducting surveys rather than planning to convert the land into capital. Some of the residents are shocked and some are not sleeping well, especially those families who own their plots of land.

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