11 July 2024

Six officials at the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO) in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima have been suspended and reported to the Bangkok headquarters, pending an investigation into an allegation of illegal land demarcation in Khao Yai National Park.

The suspension order, which takes immediate effect, was issued by Thanadol Suwannarith, the ALRO chief in Nakhon Ratchasima province, who promised that the probe would be transparent and completed within 30 days.

The ALRO in Nakhon Ratchasima has been in dispute with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, which has alleged that more than 464 hectares of land in the national park, which is also a World Heritage site, have been carved out, through illegal demarcation, to claim the land for land reform purposes. Several demarcation stones, which were installed illegally, have been removed by park officials.

Thanadol reportedly said that a disciplinary committee will be formed to consider punitive action, if the ALRO officials are found to have helped local villagers or business operators to obtain plots of land under the land reform scheme.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Patcharawat Wongsuwan said this morning that he will invite Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao for a meeting today to discuss the land dispute in Khao Yai National Park.

On January 9, five men were arrested by park officials as they were watering mango trees on land in Ban Haew Pla Gung in Mu Si sub-district, which is located within the park’s territory. Some Sor Por Kor (land reform) demarcation stones were also found in the area.

Atthaphon Charoenchansa, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, has claimed that no land clearing activities had been carried out and no Sor Por Kor land certificates had been issued for land in the park area until recently, when the illegal demarcation stones were discovered.