By The Nation
Appearing before the Land, Natural Resources and Environment Committee, Land Committee director-general Nisit Jansomwong testified that the 79 rai on which Sri Panwa is built had been settled by locals before it was designated as state forest. Locals originally registered their possession of the land on August 1, 1955. Then, after the Land Department had verified the location of the plots, government officials issued the owners with Nor Sor 3 and Nor Sor 3 Kor title deeds, Nisit said.
The Sri Panwa Phuket project bought up the land from local residents in 2003, 2015, and 2016, he added.
“According to the mapping data, this plot of land is not in the forest area at all. The area was owned by people before the [state forest] law was enacted. According to the law, if people owned the land before the law was enacted, they have the right to occupy the area," said Nisit.
The Department of Special Investigation is currently probing a complaint by Veera Somkwamkid, secretary-general of the People's Network Against Corruption, that the Sri Panwa project was unlawfully issued title deeds for the land.
The resort is also under the spotlight after its owner, Vorasit Issara, accused anti-establishment activist Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul of offending the monarchy and suggested she be sent to jail.