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Phuket Park chief files complaint against “Encroacher No 5′

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PHUKET: The new chief of Sirinath National Park, Cheewapap Cheewatham, has filed a police complaint against another landowner for allegedly encroaching on national park land.

The complaint, against the fifth landowner of the 10 plots raided on August 15, accused two companies of encroaching on five rai of state forest land. The two companies are allegedly controlled by the same owner.

Sarinath Park chief Cheewapap filed the complaint on Wednesday to Lt Col Yotpat Suwannasit, an inspector with the Cherng Talay Police.

“We have checked documents presented to us and found that state land has been encroached on and that a fence installed extends beyond the boundaries laid out in the Chanote land title deed they presented to us,” alleged Mr Cheewapap.

He cited three acts of parliament that the companies had allegedly transgressed:

• Forest Act B.E. 2484 (1941), Sections 54 and 55, which state that it is illegal to “construct on, reclaim or burn forest, or do anything whatsoever to destruct, hold or possess forest by [anyone] without permission of [a] competent officer”;

• National Park Act B.E. 2504, Section 16(1), which states that it is illegal to “hold or possess land, including to build upon, destruct or burn forest without permission of a competent officer”; and

• National Environmental Quality Act B.E. 1992, Section 97, which states that “any person who commits an unlawful act or omission by whatever means resulting in the destruction, loss or damage to natural resources owned by the State or belonging to the public domain shall be liable to make compensation to the state representing the total value of natural resources so destroyed, lost or damaged by such an unlawful act or omission.”

“This is the fifth case we have filed a complaint against for encroachment on a national park [as a result of the August 15 raids],” said Mr Chaweeapap.

“Of the 11 cases we are investigating, only some of the landowners involved have presented to us their land documents. Some of them have requested the authorities to measure their land to make sure they are clear, and others have yet to present their land ownership documents,” he added.

At the August 15 raids, Damrong Phidet, at that time the Director-General of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Conservation, said the landowners who stand accused of encroaching on park land had 30 days to present their land ownership documents to Royal Forest Department officers.

Since then, one of the accused has demolished his buildings on the land in question, said Mr Chaweeapap.

“Regardless, we will continue our investigation into whether the title deed they presented is legal. We need some time for this matter as it is such a delicate issue,” he said.

“Officers from the Royal Forest Department are measuring the national park area according to the proclamation of the Royal Forest Department Act B.E. 2507,” he added.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

 

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