Authorities inspect contested development in chiang Mai
LANDHOLDERS are being urged to prevent problems by using the “Forest4Thai” smartphone app to check whether a plot they want to buy or build on encroaches on forestland.
Royal Forest Department (RFD) director-general Chonlatid Suraswadi made this suggestion as he led a team to inspect the “Hi-Society Hill” privately owned scenic resort land plots in Tambon Ban Pong of Chiang Mai’s Hang Dong district.
A sought-after area among wealthy people and property developers, “Hi-Society Hill” has been accused of encroaching on forest reserves. Chonlatid said the visit was to follow up a preliminary inspection of the area in June, which found that at least two plots were inside forest boundaries.
Out of 18 plots with building construction that allegedly encroach onto 40 rais (6.4 hectares) of forest reserve, the owners of 11 plots claimed to have the correct documents, he said.
Two out of the 18 plots were confirmed to have no proper landright document or construction licence, and the matters were forwarded to the police for further investigation and prosecution, he said.
Chonlatid also reported that Chiang Mai had seen some 100 similar cases where there were accusations of forest encroachment, and so far there had been 27 prosecutions.
In most cases, the occupiers claimed to have “Sor Por Gor 4-01” document or a “Chanote” (freehold) title deed, and the RFD had co-ordinated with the Interior Ministry and the Land Department to investigate them.
A Sor Por Gor 4-01 document applies to land mainly used for agriculture and confers only the right to occupy and transfer by inheritance. Under no circumstance can this land be sold. The landright documents for some plots were now being revoked, Chonlatid said.
Nationally, there were nearly 1,000 similar cases, mostly in and around the Central Plains areas of Kanchanaburi, Phetchaburi, Nakhon Nayok and Phetchabun, and the RFD’s Phrayak Phrai Taskforce was looking into them.
Chonlatid warned that people wishing to buy land plots should ask officials directly whether the plots were within forest boundaries. He also suggested that they make use of the “Forest4Thai” app, which is downloadable in IOS and Android versions, to check the status of the plot.
Accompanying Chonlatid on the trip were Phrayak Phrai unit head Cheewaparp Cheewatham and Forest Resource Management Office 1 (Chiang Mai) director Somchai Prempanichnukul.
The team also went to the Ban Mae Kampong in Tambon Huai Kaew of Mae On district to enforce the law on a business operator who had installed three or four zip-line stations on forest reserve land without permission.