Sunday, October 20, 2019

Four officials transferred while ARLO under fire over resort encroachment

Jul 31. 2019
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By Prasit Tangprasert
The Nation

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Four officials at the Nakhon Ratchasima Agricultural Land Reform Office (ARLO) have been transferred to inactive posts this week, following a controversy over the legitimacy of the status of a land plot on which the 88 Garmonte Resort in the northeastern province’s Wang Nam Kheow district was built.

The transfer, issued last Friday (July 26) by ARLO secretary-general Winaroj Sapsongsuk, came into effect on Wednesday (July 31) for the four officials. Legal officials Nisit Chanthachote and Chatchai Chantemdoung have been shifted to “assisting work” at the ARLO Bureau of Legal Affairs, while senior surveyor Preecha Prapanukul and expert surveyor Prachuap Romsuk were moved to similar positions at the Mapping and Land Text Management Bureau.

It was unclear if the transfer was directly linked to the ongoing dispute over the 88 Garmonte Resort’s status. However, the transfer order was issued on the same day that Thap Lan National Park head Prawatsart Chanthep and Phraya Sue taskforce advisor Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn told reporters that they aimed to proceed with legal action for a charge of perjury against a legal official at the Nakhon Ratchasima ARLO branch office. The legal official in question was alleged to have erroneously testified to a court that the 88 Garmonte Resort was built on agricultural land allocated under ARLO’s Sor Por Kor land reform programme. 

Prawatsart and Chaiwat made the comments while they were posting a notice board announcing that the 88 Garmonte Resort and 10 other resorts in Wang Nam Kheow were to be demolished within 90 days as they had allegedly built on park forestlands.

The 88 Garmonte Resort, which had faced legal actions by the national parks department in 2012 and 2017 over forestland encroachment allegations, was in the spotlight again recently after the Phalang Pracharath Party, a member of the governing coalition, used it as the venue for a July 21-22 weekend seminar. 

Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) director-general Thanya Netithamkul early last week told Natural Resources Minister Warawuth Silpa-archa that the resort’s entire plot allegedly encroached on the park’s forest reserve land.Thanya told the minister that the DNP would probe the facts after learning that the public prosecutor had decided not indict the resort operators based on the erroneous claim that it was Sor Por Kor territory, and to again present them to the public prosecutor for their consideration.

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