Bangkok Post

Phuket villagers march to demand land rights

Communitie­s are ‘too close’ to urban areas

- ACHADTAYA CHUENNIRAN

Around 200 villagers in Phuket yesterday rallied at the provincial office, calling for the distributi­on of land rights to 23 local communitie­s on the island province.

Members of the Phuket Community Network gathered at the Sanamchai public recreation area in Muang district at 10am and later walked to the provincial office together.

Somchai Rithichai, the network’s coordinato­r, said a proposal was earlier taken to the National Land Policy Committee that six communitie­s in Phuket should be entitled to community land rights. They are the Tha Sak, Koh Phi, Ao Yon, Bang Rak Mai, Hon Saithong and Thanit Thurakijru­amsin communitie­s.

The committee and various agencies in Phuket then conducted a survey of the six communitie­s, he said.

The results, however, showed these communitie­s fell short of the criteria for distributi­on of community land because they are so close to urban areas, where wealthy people could later capitalise on them.

According to Mr Somchai, who disagrees with that conclusion, the group decided to submit the petition to the provincial governor yesterday, asking him to help the network solve the issue. He insisted the communitie­s are ready to comply with conditions stipulated under the community land title deeds.

If the problem cannot be settled in the provincial levels, the group would take the issue to the central authoritie­s, he noted.

Speaking after talks with representa­tives from the 23 communitie­s, Phuket governor Norapat Plodthong said Phuket authoritie­s earlier proposed six communitie­s receive the community land right title deeds.

But the proposal was overturned as the communitie­s did not fit the criteria set out by Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmen­t since they are city communitie­s. Some of the land have been used for commercial purposes and have been encroached upon.

The allocation of the land for the poor is supervised by various central authoritie­s at the policy level. Provincial governors chair panels on the issues in local areas.

“The province would seek a change here, and ask to collect the informatio­n again since each community is different,” said the governor, adding efforts should be made to tackle the land right problems in all 23 communitie­s in the province.

After all informatio­n is collected, a provincial committee would convene with the participat­ion of representa­tives from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmen­t — the agency supervisin­g policy on the issue, he said, adding around 50% of the informatio­n has been gathered.

He said that from now on, local and central authoritie­s would work together closely on the issue.

This was one outcome reached at the meeting, adding the community representa­tives agreed with this.

The move to grant community land title deeds follows the government’s efforts to tackle the land rights problems among the local villagers in the 2017.

 ?? ACHADTAYA CHUENNIRAN ?? About 200 villagers of the Phuket Community Network picket outside the provincial office calling for the distributi­on of land rights to 23 local communitie­s in Phuket yesterday.
ACHADTAYA CHUENNIRAN About 200 villagers of the Phuket Community Network picket outside the provincial office calling for the distributi­on of land rights to 23 local communitie­s in Phuket yesterday.

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