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No threat to businesses currently operating on agricultural reform land

No threat to businesses currently operating on agricultural reform land

THURSDAY, June 22, 2017
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Business operators engaged in mining, oil fields, and wind farms on agricultural reform land could continue their business as usual until they are granted new permission following a new ministerial regulation to be issued, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Wednesday.

The Cabinet on Tuesday approved in principle the use of Article 44 to allow these business activities to be operated on agricultural reform land, after issuance of a new regulation from the Agriculture Ministry.
The approval has prompted some land experts to question the appropriateness of the decision as the land is principally subject to distribution to poor farmers. It is managed by the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO).
Wissanu claimed that at present such use of the land is only 0.1 per cent or around 4,000 rai out of 40 million rai of ALRO land. 
There are five or six oil field operators in Lan Krabue district in Kamphang Phet province, 20 wind farms, and five to 10 mining operators on ALRO land, he said.
But once the ministerial regulation is issued, they must seek permission again, he said.
It’s unclear whether new operators could apply for use of the reform land for similar purposes, or the new order under Article 44 covers only existing businesses.
Anti corruption activist Srisuwan Junya earlier said he planned to challenge the constitutionality of using Article 44 of the provisional charter to turn the reform land over to mining and other uses.
Srisuwan said he would ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the government’s decision to invoke Article 44 to switch land managed by the ALRO for mining and generation of energy. 
Using the article to override existing legislation “violates” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s “promise”, since he has urged everyone to obey the law, Srisuwan said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
He said allowing such use of farmland would serve the interests of businesspeople rather than serve the common good.