THALANG: The head of the Phuket office of the Royal Irrigation Project (PRIP) is “100% confident” that the 145-million-baht budget for the purchase of land to create a reservoir at Klong Bang Neaw Dum will be approved by Bangkok by the end of March. The project, which is intended to provide a second major supply of water on the island, covers 59 land plots totaling 651 rai. In a report issued recently, PRIP Director Watchara Arepornsiri said that the cost of acquiring all the necessary land and compensating owners for the loss of other assets would be 316 million baht. The initial 145-million-baht budget comprises 138 million baht for the purchase of 29 land plots totaling 305 rai, and a further 7 million baht for tree removal. The owners of the 29 plots have agreed to sell at the price offered by the government. The Royal Irrigation Project in Bangkok has approved the 145-million-baht figure, and has sent the proposal to the Budget Bureau for final approval. A further 30 land plots pose various problems. Of these, 25 belong to landowners who either dispute survey results or who have not accepted government purchase offers. Three other plots have stands of virgin forest and permission to remove the trees has not yet been granted. The last two plots are untitled. At a meeting on March 1, K. Watchara said that although the proposal was still under Budget Bureau consideration, he was nevertheless 100% certain of approval. He noted reports that people were illegally felling trees in the area, but said that there was nothing the government could do about this until it took possession of the land. Until then, this was a matter for the current landowners to deal with, he explained.
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