AN operational officer at Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) said today (June 10) that there has been heavy land grabbing at Khao Yai National Park with an audit showing possibly over 10,000 rai of forest land had been encroached upon, Matichon newspaper said.
The officer, Col. Pongpetch Kesupha, is in charge of pursuing the case against Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Wilawan and her father Mr. Sunthorn Wilawan, who is the head of Prachinburi Provincial Administrative Organisation, and their accomplices after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday pointed to them as having supported the issuance of title deeds at Khao Yai’s reserved forest areas.
The likely encroachment of huge tracts of Khao Yai forest land is currently being reinspected.
Asked how he knew over 10,000 rai of forest land had been grabbed at Khao Yai, Col, Pongpetch said inspection of the boundaries of this national park revealed that overlapping title deeds were issued in 2002, which is 40 years after it was declared a national park.
“Khao Yai National Park is a well-known forest and a world heritage, it is of global importance. How will the rest of the world look on us if those in charge had allowed this heavy encroachment,” he said.
Regarding the case against Kanokwan, her father and other accomplices, Col. Pongpetch said he had asked the Land Department whether the land title deeds had been revoked as reported by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant in 2020.
He added that the forest land encroachment case for which charges were filed since 2020 is divided into two parts with new land grab charges involving seven plots, totalling 24-1-88 rai. However the Prachinburi public prosecutor decided not to pursue legal action.
The provincial police then appealed to the Attorney General’s Office which has not decided whether or not to file a lawsuit with the case taking a turn yesterday when NACC pointed out the suspects.
In January 2020 Pol. Col. Paisit Wongmuang, former chief of Department of Special Investigation, revealed that he had received complaints from the public that there had been an encroachment at Khao Yai’s boundary. It was found that title deeds for 22 land plots covering 251 rai were questionable and the case was sent to NACC.
Investigation continued and it was turned into a new case in 2019 with a conclusion that a group of 12 people were guilty of violating the Forest Act 1941 and the Park Act 1961. While police were getting ready to file charges against the suspects the case turned silent until today.
Reporters found out that Kanokwan had in the asset declaration upon taking up the deputy minister position listed almost 300 land plots for which Nor Sor. 3 Kor title deeds had been issued with these being in in Mueang, Prachantakham, Kabin Buri amd Si Mahosot districts with many located around Khao Yai.
Top: Scenic beauty of Khao Yai. Photo: Matichon Academy
Front Page: Col. Pongpetch Kesupha and his team inspecting possible encroachment at Khao Yai.