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Phuket villagers seek Bt10m over home demolition

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PHUKET: Villagers in Patong whose modest homes were destroyed by a backhoe last week are seeking 10 million baht in compensation from the development company that ordered the demolition work.

The residents of Phra Barami Road Soi 8, in the Kalim area of Patong, last Saturday awoke to the sound of a roaring backhoe that demolished their houses in less than an hour.

They lodged the compensation request yesterday at a meeting with Kathu Police Superintendent Arayaphan Pukbuakhao and Patong Mayor Pian Keesin.

Mayor Pian has already ordered municipal workers to provide food for the displaced villagers as well as a large tent for them to sleep under.

The 10-million-baht compensation request averages out to about 145,000 baht for each of the families that had occupied the long-disputed plot of land.

Representing the villagers was Jakkrit Nutat, who said his family lost everything in the demolition blitz: fridges, televisions, stereos, clothes and even basic equipment they need to make a living.

Most of the villagers are poor people from other provinces who make a simple living, such as selling food on the streets of Patong, Mr Jakkrit explained.

“We were told that the company will pay them on Monday, but it’s not clear how much they will pay,” he said.

After the homes were razed, “workers” were posted at the entry to the street to stop villagers from returning to the site and scouring the ruins for any personal possessions they could salvage.

However, Mr Jakkrit said, “Right now we are sleeping in a tent provided by Patong Municipality, but we will stay – the land belongs to me.”

Mr Jakkrit is disputing the developer’s claim to the land, saying he legally acquired the 13,600sqm plot in 1992. The land was once part of a tin mining concession, he said.

In 2004, an investor appeared claiming to be the landlord, Mr Jakkrit said.

“He filed a police report claiming that villagers were squatting on his land, which he then sold to another investor,” said Mr Jakkrit.

“In 2005, the second investor was granted permission by the court to demolish houses and evict people from part of what was deemed his land. We observed the court order, but the rest of the land was deemed fine for us to live on,” he added.

Mr Jakkrit said he will defend his claim in court.

The villagers who built homes on the land lack the financial resources to fight a legal battle, he said.

— Atchaa Khamlo

 

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