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Kamala hillside projects halted; others under investigation

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Kamala hillside projects halted; others under investigation | Thaiger

KAMALA: A special adviser to the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) on September 16 toured several sites in Kamala to inspect reports of encroachment and other building violations on projects there, as well as work on two hillside projects in the area that had already been ordered halted pending further investigation.

Maj Gen Intarat Yodbangtoey toured the sites with a team including Monthon “Palad Rambo” Chartsuwan, Phuket Forestry Department Office chief Phobpol Sirilaksanapong and local authorities including members of the Kamala Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor).

The tour follows an aerial inspection by Gen Intarat in July and a complaint by the MNRE Phuket office head, Aongart Chanachanmongkol, who alleged that two private real estate projects were being built above 80 meters.

Construction of permanent structures above that height has been forbidden in Phuket since 1996, when the MNRE put the measure in place to prevent deforestation, flooding and landslides.

Work on 15 structures that are part of the “Parisa” project on Naka Lay Rd in Kamala Village 6 was ordered to halt, along with 11 more at the Cape Sol project, also in Village 6, said Gen Intarat.

A subsequent investigation of the sites will determine whether they are in violation of the 80m restriction. The investigation will also check whether the sites occupy a slope exceeding 35% across the entire site, which is also illegal, he said.

The land title deeds for the property would also be investigated, he added.

“I worry that local investors will be cheated or persuaded to invest in projects being built on land for which land title deeds were illegally issued,” he said.

Some 4,000 plots of land covered by Nor Sor 3 deeds issued in 2001 and 2002 are now under investigation, he said.

The titles were issued while fugitive former registrar of the Phuket Provincial Land Office Thawatchai Anukul was still in office.

The investigation would also check who granted the projects’ construction permission, he added.

Phuket Forestry Office chief Mr Phobpol confirmed that the title deeds for the Cape Paradise project in Patong are also under investigation. Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit signed the complaint authorizing the probe of the project, which occupies 92 rai of Nor Sor 3 Gor land along Tritrang Beach.

Many coastal sites in Koh Kaew have also come under scrutiny for potential encroachment on mangrove forests, he added.

Well-known projects in that area, including the Boat Lagoon and the Royal Phuket Marina, would be asked to cooperate in providing evidence in the form of title deeds and supporting documents, he said.

Similar requests would be made of the Loch Palm Golf Course in Kathu and another project at Kayae Beach in Kamala, he added.

Also being investigated for possible failure to comply with its Initial Environmental Evaluation (IEE) approval is the Malaiwana luxury villa project south of Nai Thon Beach in Sakoo, Thalang, Mr Phobpol added.

Construction on one building at the project site was ordered halted on September 11, after Sakoo Village 4 headman Sompong Panyawai complained to Sakoo OrBorTor that heavy rains had caused exposed soil at the project site to slide across part of the Nai Thon-Layan road.

“We have received many complaints from non-governmental organizations that coastal property projects, including one Trisara property, are encroaching on public beaches,” Mr Sompong said.

Mr Phobpol asked for cooperation from owners of projects who had been the target of complaints and assured them that they would be treated fairly.

Many Thai observers believe that a number of land investigations over the past few years have been driven more by politics than genuine doubts as to the authenticity of documents or the integrity of other aspects of development projects.

 

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