Bangkok Post 15 June 2016
TRAT – The Siam Beach Resort on Koh Chang, where a Thai tourist died when one of its buildings collapsed early this month, has been encroaching on 30 rai of land belonging to Mu Ko Chang National Park, the head of a taskforce on forest and wildlife protection said on Tuesday.
The discovery has dealt another blow to the hotel’s business after it was closed down indefinitely and declared a disaster zone when one of its six two-storey structures collapsed on June 4, killing one tourist and injuring five others.
Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn led members of a Phaya Sua (King of Tigers) special operations unit to inspect the hotel on Koh Chang’s Kai Bae beach on Tuesday after authorities received complaints shortly after the fatal collapse, alleging parts of its property had occupied the park’s land.
Mr Chaiwat said Boonchuay Kunsriworakul, the hotel’s owner, held Nor Sor 3 Kor land rights documents certifying land use covering a block of 58 rai. While the hotel’s structures are built on 20 rai of flat land, more than 30 rai is on mountainous slopes and part of the park’s rainforest.
The slope of the encroaching area is at a 45-degree angle, so it has not been used by the hotel. As a result, Mr Boonchuay will not face charges if he returns the land to the Mu Ko Chang National Park officials, Mr Chaiwat said.
The land has been passed down through three generations of the Kunsriworakul family, the former Kaeng Krachan National Park chief added.
The Land Code stipulates that the land for which Nor Sor 3 Kor documents were issued must be used for production and must not include mountains, which are part of the forest reserve. The Nor Sor 3 Kor documents certify land use in the area and can later be converted into land deeds.
Mr Boonchuay said he would discuss the issues with his family and ask authorities to conduct a thorough measurement of the land before returning the encroaching area to Thanya Netithammakun, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).
The DNP launched the Phaya Sua operation early last month to focus on arresting major offenders and influential figures behind forest encroachment and wildlife trafficking. The team aims to take action on at least two cases each month.