Prayut mulls using S44 to reclaim 430,000 rai of land

Prayut mulls using S44 to reclaim 430,000 rai of land

Flashback: One of the high-profile army evictions occurred a year ago in Nakhon Ratchasima's Sung Noen district, when the 2nd Army uprooted three villages accused of encroaching on forest land. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
Flashback: One of the high-profile army evictions occurred a year ago in Nakhon Ratchasima's Sung Noen district, when the 2nd Army uprooted three villages accused of encroaching on forest land. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wants the Council of State and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam to consider a proposed draft order using Section 44 to reclaim more than 400,000 rai (64,000 ha) of agricultural reform land.

A source who attended the cabinet meeting Tuesday said the proposal by the Agricultural Land Reform Office (Alro) would target illegal holders of some 500 plots of at least 500 rai covering 428,390 rai of agricultural reform land in 25 provinces.

The source said Prime Minister Prayut had agreed in principle to Alro's proposed draft order on land reclamation and allocating plots to farmers but it was not decided by the cabinet because Gen Prayut wanted to reconsider the proposal to ensure farmers who have been using the land honestly for farming would not be affected by it.

"Although certain owners of these plots of land had clearly violated the agricultural land reform rules and the land given to them could be reclaimed right away, the proposal should be first screened by the Council of State and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu, who oversees the government's legal affairs," said Gen Prayut after the cabinet meeting.

Gen Prayut said it has to be figured out where the people who will lose their land will move to before the mission to take back the plots can begin.

Other possible complications of the planned reclamation of the plots should also be discussed and measures to prevent or deal with them should be put in place, he said.

Gen Prayut made his comments after Alro's proposal was suddenly taken off Tuesday's cabinet meeting agenda.

Meanwhile, a forest protection team determined that Siam Beach Resort on Koh Chang in Trat province, where the main building collapsed after heavy rain on June 4, had encroached on more than 30 rai of land in Koh Chang National Park.

The encroachment was discovered during an inspection Tuesday by a team from the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department's special operation centre for protecting national parks.

Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn, the leader of the inspection team, said Boonchuay Kulsriworachai, the resort owner, was now required to return this part of his 58 rai of land to the national park or face legal action.

Mr Boonchuay said he was willing to return the land.


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