Top Natural Resources and Environment Ministry officials toured a Sattahip hillside coveted for decades by private investors, as well as local residents who want to put up a shrine to an 18th century king.
Attapol Charoenchansa, director-general of the Royal Forest Department, forest-protection chiefs and local officials inspected Khao Malako, 22 “golden” rai nestled between Khao Chee Chan, Yanasangwararam Worawiharn Temple and other prime tourist spots.
It has been the subject of repeated encroachment cases over the years, with the wealthy and influential bribing bureaucrats to issue fake land-title deeds or just outright taking the land and claiming ownership.
In the past five years alone the government has made several arrests for encroachment, canceled fake title deeds and rejected bids to build on the land.
The ministry recently published a new notice affirming the entire parcel is royal land and cannot be owned or developed privately. Those caught encroaching are subject to up to five years in prison and a 50,000-baht fine.
Residents of Najomtien Moo 6 village have battled against encroachers for years and want the government to be the one to use the land to build a shrine to King Taksin the Great.
Attapol did not indicate if the government has any interest in the shrine proposal.