Kathu District Chief Siwat Rawangkul accompanied by a host of other officials, including security personnel, revisited the site yesterday (May 10).
Mr Siwat confirmed that a ban on any further excavation at the site has been put in effect as no building permits have been issued by any government office to allow any form of construction, including earthworks, at the site.
However, by the time officials arrived to first inspect the site last Friday (May 6), all heavy machinery had already been removed.
Of note, officials arrived to inspect the site the day after the construction was reported by Isra News, which noted that officials had been informed of the construction but had yet to take action.
Only after Isra News reported the construction to Wittaya Nawiphan, Director of the Forest Resources Management Region 12 Office, which is based in Krabi, was immediate action taken.
The location of the excavation site has led to some confusion.
The site is in the far eastern reaches of the Kamala Hills National Forest Reserve, but is located on the boundary between Kathu Subdistrict and Koh Kaew Subdistrict, which also places it on the border between Kathu District and Muang District.
As plainly seen in satellite images on Google Maps, the site is located at 7°56’09.599"N 98°21’44.639"E, placing it high in the hills halfway by direct line between the Tin Mine Museum and Siam Niramit on the bypass road.
Officials have been given seven days to correctly identify which local administration is responsible for the site where the excavation is located, Mr Siwat said.
Regardless, both relevant District offices have issued a ban on any further work at the site to ensure the ban would be legally in effect.
“As for the excavation, there is no permission from both localities, which the authorities will proceed with according to the law,” Mr Siwat said.
Officers are also investigating the NorSor 3 land-use document presented to claim the land, Mr Siwat confirmed.
The NorSor 3 document appears to have been issued for a plot covering about 40 rai, Mr Siwat said.
However, the construction site being claimed covered only about four rai, he noted.
The practice of using one land title document to claim another plot of land of similar shape is well known in Phuket as a ‘Flying SorKor’, as the practice usually uses a SorKor land-use document to claim land of similar shape but different dimensions elsewhere.
The newly issued fake document is then used to upgrade the status of the land claimed to Chanote title, which is usually beyond dispute.
The Office of Natural Resources and Environment is now investigating the illegal excavation as well to determine whether any environmental laws had been broken, Mr Siwat said.
The Isra News report last week also noted that the site was 90 metres above sea level, meaning any construction, including earthworks, were illegal.
The Isra report also noted that the original gradient of the slope of the land was more than 35%, meaning that any construction was also furtherly illegal.
Phuket officials have yet to recognise either of these two illegalities.