Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was in Chiang Mai's Tambon Mae Tha yesterday to witness the handout of land use permits - for the first lot of state land allocated to landless people.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Dapong Rattanasuwan said the permits would allow 1,235 families live and use 7,282 rai within Khun Mae Tha national conserved forest area. However, the recipients are barred from selling their plots.
Dapong said land given to people in Tambon Mae Tha was the first phase of the government allocation project, which includes some 53,697 rai in six areas in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan and Chumpon.
A second phase will cover 51,929 rai in eight areas in Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Lampang, Uttaradit, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Yasothon and Ubon Ratchathani.
In granting the land use permits, the Interior Ministry selected people who have lived and used land in their areas for more than 20 years.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will allow these communities to grow communal forests within the given areas.
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry also supports these communities' agricultural endeavours.
While watching a project exhibition, the PM insisted that the land was given for liveli-|hood reasons - and must not be sold. If he used his power [to prevent such], everyone encroaching on the forest would have to leave.
Prayut said that he loved everyone in the country without any bias and was ready to do anything to reduce inequality.
This project is done under a government plan to allocate this area because previously the people were deemed illegal residents on the land.
"I used Section 44 [of the interim charter] to let everyone have land for a living and [we do] not intend to arrest anyone. If there are any problems, it can be reconciled," PM said.
Around 1,000 people in Tambon Mae Tha in Mae On district greeted the prime minister at the handout ceremony at Wat Huai Sai School. The atmosphere of ceremony was reportedly happy and cheerful.
Security was tight also with up to 2,000 soldiers and police guarding the area. People attending had to pass through thermal scanners, be registered and put a sticker on for security reasons.