The forest patch in Khon Kaen that is slated for a factory expansion.
The forest patch in Khon Kaen that is slated for a factory expansion.

Graft complaint lodged in land use dispute

national September 12, 2017 01:00

By THE NATION

A NON-GOVERNMENT organisation has filed a petition with the National Anti-Corruption Commission against Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda and others who allegedly abused their authority by approving the use of a community forest area in Khon Kaen province by a private company for a commercial purpose.



Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association of Thai Constitution Protection Organisations, said Anupong, deputy interior minister Sutee Makboon and Land Department secretary-general Prateep Kirati-rekha, as well as other officials, should be investigated by the anti-graft body.

A former provincial governor and a local administrative organisation chief were also named among those responsible for the alleged wrongdoing.

 According to the petition, Anupong and other officials granted an unnamed energy drink company to utilise a land plot of 31 rai (5 hectares) inside the Northeastern province’s community forest areas.

It is alleged that the land was used for expansion of the firm’s factory and, as a result, it now benefits only the firm’s shareholders, not members of the community.

Srisuwan said the land plot belongs to a forest area that should be used for the benefit of local residents. He said there were still some trees on the land, and it was not a dry area as argued by the Land Department.

He said there are aerial photos to prove the actual condition of this land plot, so the Interior Ministry had no authority to give the private firm such a privilege.

 According to the ministry’s regulations, any use of community forest and other public land plots by the private sector is restricted to a maximum of 10 rai.

He said the Interior Ministry granted the private firm the right to use the land despite opposition from local residents.

Deputy premier Wisanu Kreungam declined to comment on the Interior decision. He said he had no information on the issue at this stage since the Interior Ministry had not conducted any prior consultation.