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Pheu Thai to investigate Phuket encroachment case



PHUKET: The spokesman for the ruling Pheu Thai Party today announced he will travel to Phuket soon to investigate the alleged encroachment of 65-rai of protected mangrove forest.

According to a report in the Manager Online, Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit says the alleged encroachment is in Muang district, on land which the Phuket Gazette understands to be located off Bang Chee Lao Soi 2 in Rassada Village 2.

About 50 local residents protested at the site on December 9 last year, the day Phuket Land Office worker Thanawut Jiarabutr was scheduled to survey it.

The disputed land is claimed by Air Mardsri, who holds a Sor Kor 1 land title deed for the plot.

Rassada Village 2 headman Sangkom Sintupradit told the Gazette last month that the forest was cleared of vegetation about nine months previously by Mr Mardsri and his partner Adisak Preekarn.

“They used the document Sor Kor 1 [as authority to carry out the work], which I’m not sure is right. So I would like the government officials to examine the document before doing anything [else].”

Mr Sangkom said that the forest was destroyed before he took up his position as village headman.

After the protest it was agreed that neither side would take action until the investigation was complete.

The villagers questioned the authenticity of the deed, saying such a document could not have been issued on what is clearly a mangrove forest reserve.

Today they took their case to the Government, getting a positive response when Mr Prompong said he would personally take part in the probe.

In their plea to the Government, the villagers said that encroachment on mangrove forest land was a fundamental cause of the type of flooding now taking place in many parts of southern Thailand.

Mr Prompong and his team would try to determine if the Sor Kor 1 was issued illegally and with “benefits” accruing to government officials who conspired in the encroachment, as alleged by the villagers.

If sufficient evidence is found, the case would be referred to the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, he said.

The case is just one of many being investigated in Phuket. Others include a plot of over 60 rai at Freedom Beach in Patong, with alleged involvement by a top-level bureaucrat.

That plot came under scrutiny when the land went up for sale at an asking price of 4 billion baht. The case is now under investigation by the Private Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.


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