Charging villagers 32 million for forest damage?

Villagers fight back after govt orders them to pay 32 million for forest damage & global warming. Hurry up with land deeds promised, say villagers.


In photo above a member of the Land Reform Network lodges a petition urging the government to help villagers being sued by state agencies for alleged forest encroachment (Photo by Apichart Jinakul). 

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LAND ROW

Encroacher suspects counter with lawsuits

29/05/2012
Apinya Wipatayotin

Villagers facing fines for encroaching on forests and contributing to global warming yesterday filed administrative lawsuits against two forest agencies for unfairly charging them.

The National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and the Royal Forest departments has filed civil charges against 68 residents in Trang, Phatthalung and Krabi for encroaching on forest land in the Bantad mountain region.

Over the past two years, the court has ordered 38 villagers to pay a combined 32.84 million baht, or 150,000 baht per rai, for damaging the forest and contributing to global warming.

The departments' damage claims were based on assessed financial losses caused by forest destruction, such as damage as a result of rising temperatures, reduced rainfall and soil erosion.

The villagers facing the fines yesterday petitioned the Central Administrative Court to revoke the departments' calculation of damage claims, saying it was unfair and lacked a foundation in scientific evidence.

Pongtip Samranjit, of the Land Reform Network of Thailand, a non-governmental organisation which is assisting the residents in the case, said the calculation method had never been reviewed by academics.

The legal action against the villagers was also depriving people of their right to use and manage natural resources in their locality.

"It's not fair for villagers to pay compensation based on such an unreliable model," Ms Pongtip said.

Many villagers had fallen heavily into debt as they had to borrow the money to pay for the damages ordered by the court.

The departments earlier insisted that the way they calculated ecological loss from forest encroachment was fair and based on scientific data.

The Land Reform Network yesterday also rallied at Government House to call on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to issue community land deeds more speedily.

More than 500 eligible communities are waiting to receive community land deeds from the government, the network said.

Network representative Boon Saejoong blasted the government for acting slowly on the matter.

He called on state authorities to stop legal action against residents living in communities where community land title deeds were about to be issued.

Some people facing fines for encroaching on forests and contributing to global warming were from communities which are entitled to the community land title deeds, Mr Boon said.

Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit yesterday received the villagers' petition and said he had instructed the governors of Trang, Phatthalung, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Surat Thani and Ratchaburi provinces to look into the problem.

The community land title scheme was initiated by the previous Abhisit Vejjajiva government.

The scheme is based on a belief that qualified communities should be entitled to own land to guarantee their livelihoods in areas belonging to state-owned agencies and to help preserve natural resources.

So far, only two communities have been granted the land deeds - Khlong Yong community in Nakhon Pathom province and Ban Thin community in Phrae province.

(Source: Bangkok Post, LAND ROW, Encroacher suspects counter with lawsuits, 29/05/2012, Apinya Wipatayotin, link

Forest Encroachment Vocabulary
 
global warming -  the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and the negative effects on weather and farming such as flooding, droughts and reduced crop yields (See Wikipedia and effects)

Land Reform Network - an organization that represents poor farmers in the struggle to get them land (See website)

encroachment
- entering and using a place that you do not own; gradually covering more and more of an area of land การบุกรุก
forest encroachment - entering a part of the forest that does not belong to you and using it for some purpose (farming, resort, etc)
encroacher (noun) - a person who encroachs on some area not owned by them

alleged - claimed to be true although not yet proven ที่ถูกกล่าวหา
alleged forest encroachment

sued
- bring a lawsuit against someone for damage you say they did to you
state - government รัฐ
state agencies - government departments or ministries

villagers being sued by state agencies for alleged forest encroachment

petition (verb) - to make a formal request; to ask someone in authority to do something ยื่นคำร้อง
petition (noun) - 1. a formal request for action to be taken, made to a court of law การยื่นอุทธรณ์; 2. a document signed by a large number of people demanding or requesting some action from the government or another authority การถวายฎีกา,การร้องเรียน
lodge a petition - give a petition to an authority and ask them to act on it

urging - asking someone strongly to do something
a petition urging the government to help villagers

a member of the Land Reform Network lodges a petition urging the government to help villagers being sued by state agencies for alleged forest encroachment

row - an argument or fight
land row - a fight over land

suspects - people who may have committed the crime, identified by the police ผู้ต้องสงสัย
encroacher suspects - people that are believed to have encroached on land

lawsuits - a case in a court of law to end a dispute between two people
counter - to take action to oppose or stop something ต่อต้าน
counter with lawsuits

encroacher suspects counter with lawsuits

facing fines for encroaching on forests

global - throughout the world ทั่วโลก
contributing to global warming

civil - of a case filed a court that deals with non-criminal matters, especially complaints made by people against other people or organisations คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาลแพ่ง
charges
- bring a criminal case against a person
filed civil charges

filed - to take official action, e.g., to make a formal complaint ยื่นฟ้องร้อง
filed administrative lawsuits
unfairly charging them

residents - people who live in a particular place or area ชาวบ้านในบริเวณ ผู้อาศัยในบริเวณ

Villagers facing fines for encroaching on forests and contributing to global warming yesterday filed administrative lawsuits against two forest agencies for unfairly charging them.The National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and the Royal Forest departments has filed civil charges against 68 residents in Trang, Phatthalung and Krabi for encroaching on forest land in the Bantad mountain region. Over the past two years, the court has ordered 38 villagers to pay a combined 32.84 million baht, or 150,000 baht per rai, for damaging the forest and contributing to global warming.

assessed - evaluated, checked and looked at closely to make a judgement about something (Photo on right above is of outsource
assessed financial losses - find out how much has been lost (using money as a measure)

destruction - when something is destroyed การทำลาย, ภาวะที่ถูกทำลาย
forest destruction

soil erosion
- (See Wikipedia)

The departments' damage claims were based on assessed financial losses caused by forest destruction, such as damage as a result of rising temperatures, reduced rainfall and soil erosion.

petitioned - make an official request 
petition a court - ask a court to take legal action against something

revoke - cancel, officially end something; officially say that something is no longer legal, e.g., a contract, a law, a document, etc. เพิกถอน ยกเลิก

foundation - 1. a strong base on which something is built; 2. supporting structure, the part of a structure of a building that is below the ground and supports the rest of it รากฐาน
lack a foundation in ... - does not have a strong base or support in ...

evidence - information that shows and proves something to be true หลักฐาน หลักฐานประกอบการไต่สวนคดี หรือพิจารณาคดี
scientific evidence - evidence from scientific studies

lacked a foundation in scientific evidence

academics
- professors and lecturers at universities and colleges
reviewed by academics - experts who study, teach and research a subject at a university took a close look at a case

The villagers facing the fines yesterday petitioned the Central Administrative Court to revoke the departments' calculation of damage claims, saying it was unfair and lacked a foundation in scientific evidence. Pongtip Samranjit, of the Land Reform Network of Thailand, a non-governmental organisation which is assisting the residents in the case, said the calculation method had never been reviewed by academics.

legal action - when the legal system is used to try to stop something

deprive -
take something away from someone
depriving people of their right


natural
- found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
natural resources - things such as coal, trees and oil that exist in nature and can be used by people ทรัพยากร

locality - a small local place such as a villaeg or small town where people live
natural resources in their locality

The legal action against the villagers was also depriving people of their right to use and manage natural resources in their locality.

compensation
- money paid for some loss; money paid for harm or damage done to someone การจ่า่ยเงินชดเชย

unreliable - not able to be trusted or believed ไม่น่าเชื่อถือ (cannot be certain it will work the way you expect or it what you think it is)  
unreliable model

"It's not fair for villagers to pay compensation based on such an unreliable model," Ms Pongtip said.

debt - an amount of money that you owe หนี้
fallen heavily in debt

Many villagers had fallen heavily into debt as they had to borrow the money to pay for the damages ordered by the court.

insisted - say firmly that something must happen or is true, and will not change mind

ecology
ecological
ecological loss
calculated ecological loss from forest encroachment


data
- facts or information used for making calculations or decisions ข้อมูล
scientific data

The departments earlier insisted that the way they calculated ecological loss from forest encroachment was fair and based on scientific data.

issue - to give or provide something official แจกจ่าย to officially announce or give out ออก, ออกประกาศ, ออกคำสั่ง
community - local people, all the people who live in a local area or place ชุมชน
issued community land deeds

The Land Reform Network yesterday also rallied at Government House to call on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to issue community land deeds more speedily.

eligible - meet theconditions, requirements and rules needed to receive something มีสิทธิ มีสิทธิชอบธรรมตามกฎหมาย เอื้อด้วยกฎหมาย ที่มีคุณสมบัติพร้อม  ซึ่งมีคุณสมบัติเหมาะสม
eligible communities

network
- a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
network representative

blasted - criticised severely โดนว่า
blast the government

matter
- a situation or subject which is being dealt with or considered เรื่อง, ภารกิจ, งาน  สิ่งที่พูดถึง ประเด็นที่พูดถึง
acting slowly on the matter

More than 500 eligible communities are waiting to receive community land deeds from the government, the network said. Network representative Boon Saejoong blasted the government for acting slowly on the matter.

authorities - government officials; the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
state authorities

community land title deeds
issued - made available ออกใหม่

entitled - having the right to have or do something มีสิทธิโดยชอบ
entitled to the community land title deeds

scheme - a plan that is developed by a government or large organisation in order to provide a particular service for people แผนการ โครงการ
community land title scheme

initiated - created; started ริเริ่มโดย

He called on state authorities to stop legal action against residents living in communities where community land title deeds were about to be issued. Some people facing fines for encroaching on forests and contributing to global warming were from communities which are entitled to the community land title deeds, Mr Boon said. Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit yesterday received the villagers' petition and said he had instructed the governors of Trang, Phatthalung, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Surat Thani and Ratchaburi provinces to look into the problem. The community land title scheme was initiated by the previous Abhisit Vejjajiva government.

guarantee
- a promise that something will be done or will happen คำรับรอง, การประกัน
livelihoods - ways to earn money to support a family (See glossary)
guarantee livelihoods

preserve - to keep something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed ทำให้คงอยู่, สงวน อนุรักษ์
preserve natural resources

granted - officially given ให ้ (เงินกู้)
granted the land deeds

The scheme is based on a belief that qualified communities should be entitled to own land to guarantee their livelihoods in areas belonging to state-owned agencies and to help preserve natural resources. So far, only two communities have been granted the land deeds - Khlong Yong community in Nakhon Pathom province and Ban Thin community in Phrae province.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer