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Intarat takes to the air

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Intarat takes to the air | Thaiger

KARON: Maj Gen Intarat Yodbangtoey, “special adviser” to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Anongwan Thepsutin, wrapped up his two-day visit to Phuket yesterday with a helicopter inspection tour of suspected illegally acquired land plots on Phuket.

“About 20 construction sites believed to be illegal are under investigation by the DSI [Department of Special Investigations]. We expect the DSI to announce the results of their investigations soon,” Gen Intarat said.

After his aerial tour, Gen Intarat said he had noticed there were many construction sites on Forestry Department land in the hills at Tri Trang, Patong and Kamala.

Following his meeting with Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit to discuss the role of Phuket provincial government officers in preventing encroachment on Forestry Department land, Gen Intarat said, “We may investigate local administration organizations, too. We have selected special officers to investigate encroachment cases, with the team headed by Monthon “Palad Rambo” Chartsuwan.

“We are inspecting plots with deeds that were approved in 2002 by a former Land Department officer,” Gen Intarat said, referring to Thawatchai Anukul, a former registrar of the Phuket Provincial Land Office.

In 2003, the Criminal Court in Bangkok issued arrest warrants for Thawatchai and fellow Land Office official Uru Thipthep of the Kathu District Land Office.

Uru was arrested that same year, though Thawatchai avoided capture and has been a fugitive since.

“Approved deeds for land in Phuket were a particular problem in 2002 and 2003, when about 3,000 plots were approved,” Gen Intarat said.

To guard against future illegal developments on the island, he said, “We plan to send the rules for approving deeds for land in Phuket to the DSI, embassies, the Land Office and the Royal Thai Police and warn them to check Phuket deeds carefully before approving them.

He added that illegal projects on hillsides posed a danger to people’s safety, particularly those in landslide risk areas. “Investors should know where exactly they are allowed to build, but there are many people who sell illegal land plots and this could be dangerous for people living in Phuket,” he said.

“Influential persons” were often involved in such illegal dealings, he added.

Gen Intarat also said that he had received requests to change the ban on building 80 meters above sea level to 120m above sea level. “This will affect land prices and result in more construction sites [in the hills],” he said.

“I worry about more construction sites on hills because even a small earthquake could lead to serious damage,” he added.

 

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