Governor to appeal for homes to stay on state land

PHUKET CITY: Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura will ask the Cabinet to allow residents in Soi Kingkaew, near Koh Sireh, to keep their homes, even though government offices have long claimed that the houses have been built on state land.

The Governor visited the soi on Tuesday with Phuket Provincial Office of Natural Resources and Environment chief Thongchai Saowapong. The inspection came after residents there gave letters to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during his flying visit to Phuket in August, asking him to allow them to stay.

More than 3,000 people live in some 800 homes on more than 300 rai of land there that the government claims was part of a 3,937-rai mangrove forest. Residents in the soi have disputed the government’s claim since 1997.

The Governor said the exemption would be in line with the government’s aim of improving poor people’s lives. He said his first action would be to present a resolution to Cabinet asking for the residents to be allowed to stay on the land.

As the residents had also complained about poor electricity and water supplies, he also ordered the public utilities to provide services to them.

“You will be allowed to stay as you are [already] on this land,” Gov Udomsak told the residents, “but I warn you that if you try to take over any more state land, you will be punished.”

K. Thongchai said that if the Cabinet agreed to let the people stay at the site, his office would build a fence between the properties along the soi and the surrounding national forest.

“[If the Cabinet agrees,] These people will have the right to stay on this land for no more than 25 years, during which they will rent the land from this office and they cannot sell it,” he said.

Phuket News

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