House Committee gets down to earth on Phuket land disputes

The Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment from the House of Representatives yesterday landed in Phuket to conduct a study tour and resolve land disputes.

The visit, led by the committee chairman, Apichart Sirisunthon, who also holds the position of Secretary-General of the Move Forward Party (MFP), sought to address the local land disputes and wastewater issues. Numerous complaints received by the committee informed the initiative.

Apichart Sirisunthon and his delegation convened a meeting at the Phuket Provincial Hall, under the helm of Phuket Governor Suwan Suwannarat. The gathering, attended by high-ranking Phuket officials and several public members, was an opportunity to voice feedback and suggestions.

The briefing encompassed land rights in the Thalang District and wastewater problems plaguing the Mueang Phuket district and Kathu district. However, Phuket MP Chalermpong Sangdee, also from the MFP, later highlighted Kamala, Karon, and Patong as primary areas of concern for wastewater.

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“Every year during the tourist season there is more wastewater than normal, and [it] flows into the sea,” Chalermpong Sangdee penned in an online post.

The committee’s mission extends to resolving issues pertinent to inhabitants of the Bang Khanun National Protected Forest area. Additionally, they are scrutinising the progress of an investigation into land ownership at Cape Yamu.

House Committee gets down to earth on Phuket land disputes | News by Thaiger
Picture courtesy of Phuket News

This case was triggered by an alleged attack on a female doctor by Swiss expat Urs Fehr, which consequently led to protests and multiple investigations into public land encroachment, particularly targeting so-called private beaches. This incident also kindled the current comprehensive crackdown on foreign nationals for any legal violations.

In relation to the wastewater issue, Apichart Sirisunthon received a presentation from the Phuket Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Office and the Environment and Pollution Control Office 15, based in Phuket. However, details of the presentation have not been disclosed.

Apichart’s visit follows several incidents of black wastewater flowing across beaches and into the sea at tourist hotspots such as Patong, Karon, Kamala and Bang Tao. During an inspection tour of Phuket last year, Dr Surasee Kittimonthon, Secretary-General of the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR), unveiled that Phuket is incapable of treating nearly 55,000 cubic metres of wastewater daily. This leaves the untreated wastewater to be disposed of, contributing to the ongoing environmental problem.

House Committee gets down to earth on Phuket land disputes | News by Thaiger
Picture courtesy of Phuket News

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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