The Nation

Encroachment at Khao Yai National Park also, chief says

Parks officials are tracking investors accused of encroaching on 400 rai of forestland at Khao Yai National Park in Prachin Buri and Nakhon Nayok.

A comparison of aerial photos of a 200-rai area from nine years ago and presently showed it was fertile forestland in 2002 before being turned to farms and homes now occupied by 22 people, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation chief Sunan Arunnopparat said yesterday. However, Khao Yai officials had been unable to contact any of the land users in the area yet, so they would wait to get them to face the legal action. If no one claimed ownership of the land in question soon, forestry officials were legally allowed to destroy crops and buildings there, he said, adding that there should be some progress in less than a month.A source at the ministry said the 22 plots allegedly encroach on forestland on a route to Than Thip waterfall in Prachin Buri's Prachantakham district. People were issued of title deeds by "manipulation" in 2007. Later a provincial committee set up in March 2008 found the farms and homes illegal and the authorities were in a process of revoking the illegally-issued title deeds, as according to article 61 of the land use code. While villagers' names were on the 22 plots, there was talk that a Prachin Buri politician was behind the move with a plan to build a resort, as the land had a beautiful view, the source said.The source said another part of the national park encroached on was by Khao Yai Conservation Unit 4 in Khlong Plakang. Some 200 rai had been divided into six plots. The department had already arrested the alleged encroachers, who were villagers who then filed a suit with the Administrative Court. The source said some officials were threatened with abduction if they continued legal actions against encroachers.

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