Mr Sorasit Sasuay, 44, and Mr Maair Wisit, 64, spokespersons for a group of residents that occupy and live in the Pa Bang Khanoon protected forest yesterday (July 15) approached the Phuket Reporter Club to asked them to investigate why officials from the RFD and Navy officials wanted to take back the land they were living in and build an office there leaving the residents very distressed.
Mr Sorasit explained that more than 200 people have been living in the area, which covers more than 2,000 rai, long before 1998 when the area was surveyed by the government to see how many people lived there.
“But today the RFD let the Navy use 1,600 rai of the area where residents live to set up a command centre to assist people during emergency disaster evacuations..
“This group of residents were living in the area prior to the year 1998 but we believe they were not included in the land survey that took place on December 2 1998.
“Right now they are waiting for the government to examine the occupation rights and maybe allocate the land for them to live and make a living from,” he said.
“We are pleased that the Navy officials will be working in the area near us and help recover the forest, but many people will be affected by this if we have to leave. This is our home and a place for cultivation. We want the authorities to know that this group of residents is poor, they are not businessmen or land developers and the RFD should understand this.
“The authorities must visit the area and discuss with residents to find a solution. We want the authorities to allocate the area for this group soon so in the future we can propose this area to be the Thepkasattri community.
“Now we are afraid that the RFD will ask us to leave,” he added.