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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Help to save Naga Noi forest, Phuket

Naga Noi Island

THE DEPARTMENT of Special Investigation (DSI) is seeking a junta order in the hope that forestland on Naga Noi Island can be saved from bulldozers.

The island, which is part of Phuket province, is largely covered by large trees and is home to hornbills - a protected species.

The only local family on the island, the Hiranpruecks, reported this week to authorities and online communities that armed men were preparing to clear trees from a sizeable portion of the forest zone

The case has won much attention from the public, partly because Puri Hiranprueck is a well-known actor. His family owns 53 rai on the island and the rest has been described as forestland.

Pol Lt-Colonel Prawut Wongseenin, who heads the DSI Bureau of Consumer Protection and Environment Crime, disclosed yesterday that the department would ask Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya for help in seeking an order from the junta to block any bulldozing operations pending further investigation.
"We expect a response in the next couple of days," he said. 
 
 Hornbills
 
He added that initial investigation by the DSI showed that the firm preparing to clear trees on Naga Noi held illegal land-rights documents.

The justice minister is expected to ask Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to exercise his absolute power under the interim charter's Article 44 to stop the felling of trees.

"We will seek temporary protection for this zone," Prawut promised, adding that the DSI was working on having the DSI board declare this as a special case.

"Since we are still at this stage, we have not yet asked the Land Department to revoke the [alleged] illegitimately-issued land-rights documents," he added.

Prawut went on to explain that this case was not a dispute between Six Mountains Co Ltd, which says it has bought 24 rai on the island from previous owners, and the Hiranprueck family. "The land that the firm claims to own actually belongs to the state. It's a lush forest zone," he said.

Deputy Phuket Governor Chokdee Amornwat said provincial authorities had already looked into Hiranprueck family's claim, but found that the firm had valid land-rights documents.

"If these documents were issued illegitimately, then the authorities will have to launch an investigation and take the case to court. For as long as these documents are not revoked, their holders can still use the land," he said.
 
 Hornbills
 
Source: The Nation

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