Alro drags feet over Pareena encroachment case
"The Pareena case" is the latest transgression to depict the failure of Agricultural Land Reform Office (Alro) to make sure land plots belong to poor farmers.
The case involves Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP Pareena Kraikupt whose 728 rai family poultry farm in Ratchaburi province's Chom Bung district encroached on public forest. Of the area, 682 rai is Sor Por Kor land and 46 rai is public forest under the jurisdiction of the 1964 National Forest Act.
Ms Pareena was ordered to return the land to Alro without having to suffer a penalty. Under the 1975 Agricultural Land Reform Act, any person who illegally occupies Sor Por Kor land will not face legal action. Alro demolished some parts of the buildings on the farm, saying it would keep the other parts for other purposes.
However, the MP still risks being jailed for illegally occupying 46 rai of the protected forest area with a legal case still in motion.
Political activist Veera Somkwamkid, secretary-general of the People's Network Against Corruption, slammed the authorities for dragging their feet.
Mr Veera said the Royal Forestries Department acts faster when it arrests villagers. "The slow process of investigation has shown the double standards between forest encroachment case involving the rich and the poor."