DSI Director-General Col Paisit Wongmuang arrived at the park at 1pm, when he welcomed the three local residents: Mr Supan Utcharapornpan, Miss Anankhiya Chooklay and Mr Porntip Kaewmoonkam
The three assisted a team set up by DSI Deputy Chief Pol Lt Col Prawut Wongseenil in making sure legitimate claims to land located in national park areas were upheld and issued correct land documents, explained an announcement issued by DSI today.
In assisting officials, the three also conducted meetings with villagers, village chiefs, Thalang district officials, national park officers, teachers and students in four target areas: Sakoo, Cherng Talay, Thepkrasattri and Mai Khao.
“This project was to prevent the corruption of government officers, to preserve nature and to return land rights to local people,” said the DSI announcement.
“This project helped in the prevention of false claim certificates and the destruction of natural areas while protecting the land rights of local people,” the statement read.
During his visit and inspection of the site today, Col Paisit walked past notices highlighting the ongoing illegal occupation of 178 rai of beachfront land adjacent to Sirinath National Park.
The Supreme Court on Nov 1 last year ordered that people illegally encroaching on the land must vacate the site. The DSI then later last year posted warning notices announcing that the land had been ruled as property of the state, and that trespassers would be prosecuted.
However, since then, no tangible action has been taken to remove the squatters, most of whom operate businesses, including restaurants, serving tourists visiting the beach.
The Phuket News was unable to confirm whether or not DSI Chief Col Paisit discussed this issue at a closed-doors meeting at the park today.
However, DSI Deputy Chief Col Prawut later told The Phuket News’ Thai-language sister newspaper Khao Phuket that the DSI could not take action until the agency received a formal request from either the Governor of Phuket, Norraphat Plodthong, or the Chief of the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organisation (OrBorTor), MaAnn Samran.
“We are still waiting to receive a formal request from either of them,” Col Praut said.
At last report a large tract of the beachfront land was being advertised as for sale for B3.66 billion, despite officials saying that such a sale was illegal. (See story here.)
The full 178 rai, which features three kilometres of uninterrupted prime beach frontage, was initially estimated by the DSI to be worth B10bn. (See story here.)