DSI to help tackle land disputes involving sea gypsies on Koh Lipe

national September 13, 2014 01:00

By Chidchanok Mahappala,

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The DEPARTMENT of Special Investigation (DSI) will help the Prime Minister's Office team to tackle land conflicts in Satun province, after Moken sea gypsies accused a business group of illegitimately taking their land on Koh Lipe, where they have lived fo

General Surin Pikulthong – who chairs a PM’s Office committee assigned to help the sea-gypsy community get land and housing security – urged Satun officials to set up a panel to review the conflict between the Moken and a business group and a similar problem at Koh Bulon in the same province. He said the committee should also have representatives from the affected people. 
Surin said they had invited the chief of the DSI Bureau of Consumer Protection and Environment Crime, Pol Lt-Colonel Prayvuth Wongsrinin, to help solve the sea gypsies’ woes in Satun, which reportedly include threats and problematic land-survey procedures, and ensure that they get justice. Naval Region 3 would also oversee moves to resolve the problem while Satun authorities would carry out a parallel check. 
Surin said they would ask the sea people to stop building or demolishing structures, or encroaching on land while park authorities proceed with regulating activity on Koh Lipe and the land survey. 
Officials are due to present information on September 25 to Surin and team members so he can discuss what steps to take next on this issue with the new government.
In Trang province, a fact-finding committee said they were waiting for information from the Land Office and other agencies after a complaint by Koh Libong residents that a business group claimed ownership of land that overlaps with blocks belonging to 30 households. The local people, who made a complaint to the DSI, also claimed the business group had intruded on farmland and parts of a mangrove forest.
The company claimed to own title deeds for 12 plots of land covering 400 rai (64 hectares), half of which overlaps with land belonging to 30 families in two villages. The villagers claim to have documents and annual land-tax receipts from the Koh Libong Tambon Administrative Organisation, as evidence of land ownership that they have lived there for decades. 
Committee chairman Preecha Thavonprasit said the panel went to the venue with representatives of the company to investigate the land in question, but the company could not clearly identify territory it allegedly owned. 
He said he ordered the 40th Mangrove Forest Resources Development Station to review and submit conclusion documents to the committee for further investigation.

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