Officials accuse Akara of encroaching on forests
published : 15 Oct 2020 at 17:46
writer: Wassayos Ngamkham
The Royal Forest Department has asked police to take action against gold miner Akara Resources Plc for allegedly encroaching on public and forest land covering 73 rai in two northern provinces.
Department chief Adisorn Noochdumrong said officials had inspected the land occupied by the firm and found that 15 plots in Phichit and Phetchabun provinces had allegedly been encroached on forests and public areas.
Of those plots encroaching forests, 35 rai were in a mining concession area in Phichit’s Thap Kho district; 26 rai in a concession area in Wang Pong district; four rai in the first tailings pond in Wang Sai Phoonnai of Phichit; and three rai in the second tailings pond in the same area, said Mr Adisorn.
He accused the gold mining firm of committing three offences — destroying roads and using public areas without seeking permission from the department, operating mining in areas outside the permitted areas, and using permitted areas to get land right documents.
The department chief said he decided to file a complaint with the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division to take action against the mining firm.
He insisted that the move had nothing to do with the court battle involving the firm’s parent company and the government.
Cheewapab Cheewatham, head of the department’s Payak Prai operating team, said an order issued by the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order in 2016 had suspended mining at the site to allow it to improve the flaws that caused environmental and health problems, not to shut down the business. The department later looked into the firm’s land use and found that it had violated the law, he said.
Pol Maj Gen Pitak Uthaitham, commander of the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division, said the Department of Special Investigation had earlier looked into illegal land encroachment against Akara Resources Plc for violating the Forest Act and Highways Act and submitted the findings of the probe to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
However, the alleged encroachment involving the 15 plots was a new case, said Pol Maj Gen Pitak. He would propose that the Central Investigation Bureau set up an investigation panel to look into this case to ensure justice for all sides.