4 million rai of illegal rubber farms to be wiped out

4 million rai of illegal rubber farms to be wiped out

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on Wednesday said it will launch a nationwide operation on June 1 to recover four million rai of state land which has been subverted to rubber plantations.

“All encroached lands have been examined comprehensively. I’ve ordered officials to move in and seize them back simultaneously across the country. It will begin on June 1,” Natural Resources and Environment Minister Gen Dapong Ratanasuwan told a press conference at the 2nd Army's Suranaree Camp in Nakhon Ratchasima.

The forest areas were taken over by investors, their proxies and local villagers. But the target priority would be investors and landlords not having land ownership documents. 

Gen Dapong said he had instructed authorities to talk to the villagers found to have encroached on protected lands and find a solution to their problems.   

“We cannot merely use the law against the poor. We must help find a way out for them,” he noted. 

The minister said a survey found four million rai of forested areas nationwide had been encroached upon and turned into rubber plantations illegally. More than 400,000 rai was in the Northeast. 

Gen Dapong said he expected to reclaim at least 90,000 rai from the encroachers in the Northeast this year.

He said the ministry chose to crackdown on illegal rubber growers first because of the ongoing oversupply in the rubber market, adding the four-million-rai of illegal plantations was responsible for a considerable amount of the output.

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