THE NATIONAL Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has ruled that land-right documents for 11 plots in Prachuap Khiri Khan province were issued illegally and should be revoked.
Prachuap Pattana Development Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Sahaviriya Steel Industries, holds those documents and the Land Department has been told to cancel them.
"NACC members have decided on this unanimously," NACC secretary-general Sansern Poljieak said yesterday. He said the NACC began looking into the land deeds after Mae Rampheung Conservation Group filed a complaint.
The group said the firm's plan to build an iron smelter on the land would adversely affect the local environment as the location was inside a peat swamp forest - the last natural water-retention area in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Bang Saphan district.
Meanwhile, locals said the company planned to raise the level of the plots housing the plant by 12 metres, which would have flooded most parts of the district.
In response, the NACC set up a fact-finding committee that inspected the location and reviewed aerial photos along with related documents. It then concluded that the planned location for the facility was indeed a forested area, which is home to different animal species, some of which are rare.
It said half of the 22 plots planned for the iron-smelting facility were attached to illegally issued documents because these plots had apparently never been utilised by humans before - which makes it impossible for authorities to issue land-rights papers.
Sansern said the NACC would not pursue criminal action against state officials involved because the documents were issued a decade before the complaint reached the NACC.
"The NACC does not have jurisdiction over that issue anymore."
He said the NACC had told the Land Department to revoke the illegitimately issued land title documents.
"We will also alert the Royal Forest Department and Tambon Mae Ram-pheung Administration Organisation so they will consider what action to take against forest encroachers."
Source: The Nation
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