Land row stirs hornet's nest

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda has landed in hot water over a land dispute in which he granted approval to a company under the Krathing Daeng (Red Bull) group to use community forest land in tambon Ban Dong in Khon Kaen's Ubonrat district.

Locals who have used the 31-rai plot in the area designated as community forest made a complaint against the permit which appeared to have breached regulations. Their complaint was picked up by a watchdog web page.

After the scandal became headline news, Gen Anupong ordered a probe. It was a difficult situation for him as he was the one who signed the permit for Krathing Daeng to rent the disputed land in Huay Mek community forest at 10,000 baht per rai for five years. Initially, he said the process seemed lawful and, according to state documents, no villagers objected to the company's request to use the land. The land, as described in state documents, is "barren and has no water source". The minister added that members of the public, private companies and state agencies are free to make such requests.

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