ID :
Fri, 06/21/2024 - 06:44
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Land Reform Officials Arrested in Land-for-Wastewater Scheme

Nakhon Ratchasima, June 21 (TNA) – Four government workers responsible for land redistribution have been apprehended for issuing fraudulent land titles. These titles were meant for agricultural use, but instead facilitated the dumping of wastewater from a tapioca factory, harming nearby communities.

Early this morning, a joint team led by Deputy Commissioner Jaroonkiat Pankaew of the Central Investigation Bureau, along with a legal advisor to the Agriculture Ministry, conducted raids at 13 locations across three provinces: Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, and Bangkok.

The operation targeted four individuals suspected of issuing land rights illegally in Nakhon Ratchasima. The arrested include Akkaradetch (56), a senior land reform officer Wilailak (53), a legal affairs officer.Preecha (61), a retired senior surveyor and Choksak (54), a land surveyor.

The Land Reform Office typically grants land ownership certificates to farmers for cultivating neglected forest areas. These officials, however, are accused of misusing their authority and neglecting their duties by allowing a factory to utilize over 600 rai (240 acres) of land as a dumping ground for its wastewater.

The investigation began last September upon a request from an anti-corruption lawyer to probe the actions of land reform officials in Nakhon Ratchasima. It was suspected they ignored a factory discharging wastewater onto a designated agricultural plot.

Inspections confirmed that the 600 rai in question, registered for growing algae, was actually functioning as a wastewater pond, emitting a foul odor across a large area.

Evidence gathered by the legal advisor led to arrest warrants being issued. Initial charges involve violating Section 157 of the Criminal Code. Further investigation by the Anti-Money Laundering Office is underway to determine if money laundering was involved.

The anti-corruption commission also reported that the starch processing plant has been heavily polluting the area with wastewater, leading to numerous complaints from residents.

Investigations revealed that the land used for waste disposal, exceeding 600 rai, had been transferred to 13 individuals. None were actual farmers, and some were even factory employees. The issuance of land titles in this case was unusually fast, completed in just one month. Investigators suspect the suspects expedited the process for these nominees in exchange for bribes exceeding 1 million baht per rai. -819 (TNA)