Thai man nabbed for illegal soil excavation worth thousands of baht

Today, in Phichit province, local authorities apprehended a man who had been excavating soil from his land for commercial purposes. This operation, led by Natkrit Noykampun, Director of the 4 Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division, along with his team, was launched following suspicions raised by two trucks heavily laden with wet, sticky soil on a main road.

The officials followed the trucks to a residential area in Dong Charoen district where the soil was being dumped. They continued their surveillance and discovered illegal soil excavation in a chicken farm in the area. Upon reaching the excavation site, they found a backhoe digging a large pit more than five metres deep, with trucks waiting to transport the soil.

The team, upon revealing their identity, requested the necessary paperwork for local official notification and permit for factory operation under the Factory Act, 1992. The backhoe operator, named Wo claimed to be the manager of the excavation site and the owner of all vehicles, including the trucks.

He had two employees responsible for transporting the soil. Wo stated that he did not possess the requested documents as he was extracting soil from his land, and questioned if he violated any laws.

The official team clarified that any excavation deeper than 3 metres or with an area larger than 10,000 square metres, regardless of land ownership, requires prior notification to local authorities due to the potential environmental risks and effects on neighbouring areas. Failure to do so constitutes a violation of the Soil Excavation and Soil Filling Act, 2000, and carries a penalty of up to one year in prison, a fine of up to 50,000 baht, or both.

Moreover, even if the soil is from one’s land, the commercial sale of it is considered a business operation yielding various benefits, including monetary compensation from soil sales to the public and the creation of water bodies for agriculture. Using a backhoe with a power greater than 50 horsepower for soil excavation is categorised as establishing a type 3 factory under the Factory Act, of 1992.

Maximum Punishment

To operate such a business, permission must be obtained from the provincial industry office. Violating this law can lead to a maximum punishment of two years in prison, a fine of up to 200,000 baht, or both.

Wo, claiming that he understood the regulations due to his long-standing business operation and previous permission applications, assumed he didn’t require permits because the land was his. After the officials determined his actions to be illegal, they seized the equipment and handed him over to the investigation officer at Dong Charoen Police Station for further legal proceedings.

The authorities urged the public to report any environmental and natural resource violations, including illegal soil excavation and unauthorised business operations, to the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division’s hotline 1136, reported KhaoSod.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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