Villagers from the Khao Takiab area met last month with the Mayor of Hua Hin to express their opposition to capitalists plans to lease land in the area. With the help of Mr. Somsak Khiewkam, a former Hua Hin district county council member, the villagers representing 52 households living on the slope of the land in Khao Takiap, invaded the Hua Hin Municipality carrying placards showing their opposition to the corporate takeover of the hillside location.
The Mayor, Mr. Nopporn Wutthikul, greeted them on that day and listened to their complaints and desires. According to the locals, the old capitalists have already applied to rent the land from the Royal Forest Department, and they will shortly present their proposal to Hua Hin’s city council.
The land in question overlaps with the land of the current 52 occupants and could see their properties demolished and make them homeless. They came to request that the municipality suspend any such proposal Mr. Nopporn responded to the protesters by informing them that the municipality was not lawfully able to prevent the proposals being made in accordance with local forestry law, but would assess its validity after it had been presented. The options for consideration would be:
1. The Council agrees with the proposal.
2. The council does not approve of the proposal.
3. The council postpones the consideration agenda to a later date. Mr. Nopphon gave advice to the villagers that, If the villagers disagree with the proposals, they can file an objection with the Director General of the Royal Forest Department using the principles and claims that, “Khao Takiab is an old public area and has been used for a long time, particularly as a natural tourist attraction.”
The Khao Takiab hillside area was originally and for a very long time a public utilisation area, later, when the government issued a law to protect mountains across the country, the Royal Forest Department became responsible for oversight and providing opportunities for groups of people to rent forest areas.
Whether renting to plant a forest, building a tourist attraction, housing and more, this will be in accordance with the law in order to lease the area of the Royal Forest Department’s land.
When the private sector has permission to rent, the next step must be to ask permission from the sub-district municipality in that area. Recently mountains in more and more beautiful areas across Thailand are being rented, and there is conflict across the country between the people in the area and the local government organisations in each province.