Land grabbers implicated in peat swamp blazes

writer: Post Reporters | 27 Aug 2019

The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) has launched an investigation into the burning of peat swamps in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Chalerm Prakiat district with a land acquisition motive suspected to be behind the blazes.

According to a source, the CSD’s intervention follows findings from forestry officials and park rangers that the forest fires were likely to have been started by those seeking to claim the land once it is declared degraded forest.

Now that the blazes are under control local officials have surveyed the damage and found that burned forests covering almost 1,000 rai in the district are divided into blocks of about 30 rai each.

Those blocks had been demarcated by 1.5-metre-tall concrete poles and red paint.

The source said this demarcation has intensified suspicions that the fire was man-made.

Earlier, Kaweewat Yuthong, a village head, met Palang Pracharath Party MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat Rong Boonsuaykwan and informed him that he suspected the involvement of government officials in the fires.

According to the source, the CSD has found that nine people were allegedly involved in surveying and demarcating the swamp’s forest areas and also located a supply store where the concrete poles were reportedly bought.

The CSD team is gathering evidence to back warrants for the arrest of at least 10 suspects linked to a businesswoman based in Surat Thani.

Firefighters and soldiers teamed up to fight the fires that erupted in late July across five districts of the province. The operation reportedly cost about 300 million baht.