At a meeting at Provincial Hall today, Gov Chamroen presented a formal document attesting that a three-meter wide path marked out by officials last week is public land, giving the Rawai sea gypsies unfettered access to their boats so that they may continue to fish for a living.
However, he added, “We will have to ask Baron World Trade Co Ltd to donate the land to expand the pathway by three more meters so that the sea gyspies can access the Balai (shrine) without having to move it.”
Baron World Trade last month moved ahead with its plans to develop 33 rai alongside the village into a villa resort. Fights broke out when workers blocked off sea gypsies’ access to their Balai shrine, sparking the current Governor-led resolution process and a contingent of military personnel to keep the peace at the village. (See story here.)
The 45 rai in Rassada on offer, held by the Phuket office of the Royal Forest Department, is to relieve congestion in the overfull fishing village, Gov Chamroen said. The village is currently home to about 300 families, together housing a population of about 2,000 people.
“The 45 rai also is to allow sea gypsies a place to move to in case the court rules against them,” he said, referring to 19 rai at the Rawai village that 10 landowners have collectively claimed by presenting official land documents.
The 10 landowners presented their claims to the media on Friday (Feb 12). (See story here.)
The sea gypsies have filed an appeal, and are awaiting a court ruling to determine whether or not they will have to move.
“Last week, we sent an official request Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to buy the 19 rai for B253 million,” Governer Chamroen said.
“We are still waiting to receive their reply,’ he added.