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Isoc Region chief reviews Phuket’s fight against forest encroachment, resolves sea gypsies’ developer woes

Isoc Region chief reviews Phuket’s fight against forest encroachment, resolves sea gypsies’ developer woes

PHUKET: Lt Gen Ruangsit Mitphanon, Director of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) Operations Coordination Center 4, was in Phuket yesterday (July 10) to be briefed on achievements by the Phuket Isoc division in fighting encroachment on protected forest areas.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 11 July 2019, 06:22PM

Gen Ruangsit, from the Royal Thai Army Region 4 headquarters in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, received the briefing at the Phuket provincial office for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The briefing focused on Phuket Isoc’s activities so far during fiscal year 2019 (from Oct 1, 2018 – Sept 30, 2019).

The total protected forest area in Phuket toitalled 69,657.28 rai, Gen Ruangsit was told.

Prosecutions for encroachment on a total of 529.04 rai had been launched so far during the period, with all offenders prosecuted. Cases involving 107.01 rai of protected forest area had already concluded, noted a report by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department.

The report failed to mention how of the cases were successful in reclaiming stolen government land.

However, the report did note in carrying out a crackdown under NCPO orders 64/2017 and 66/2017 – issued following a crackdown in 2014 that specifically illegally built resorts encroaching on protected forest land – 115.68 rai of the 330.7 rai in total had been reclaimed.

Work is continuing on reclaiming the remaining 215.02 rai this year, the report added.

Following the meeting yesterday, Gen Ruangsit along with ISOC Operations Coordination Center 4 Deputy Director Lt Gen Kittisak Boonsuk and local officials, inspect a new wastewater drain being installed at the Rawai sea gypsy village.

Currently, there are around 13,000 sea gypsies along the Andaman coast, from Ranong in the north through Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi and Satun. In the Phuket area, there are three groups of sea gypsies, Moken, Moklen and Urak Lawoi, noted the report.

The heavily congested Rawai sea gypsy village is home to more than 2,000 of them, the report added.

The military and other key authorities in recent years have taken a more active role in helping to alleviate the cramped conditions and defend the sea gypsies from encroachers, as well as other key issues including the problems of education opportunity, public utilities and hygiene.

The visit yesterday was in response to all by the villagers for urgent help to resole wastewater drain being blocked by land filling organised by a private company.

After Phuket Isoc and other local officials, including Rawai Mayor Aroon Solos, inspected the site, they negotiated for the private company to agree to dig a sewer through the company’s land so that the sea gypsies had a wastewater drain the worked.

While at the village, Gen Ruangsit met and spoke with many of the villagers, to hear their complaints in the hope that more problems would be solved.

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