The Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has revealed that many plots of land intended for poor farmers in Nakhon Ratchasima have fallen into the hands of politicians, civil servants and businessmen.
PACC secretary-general Pol Col Prawet Munpramuk said yesterday the anti-graft agency is investigating alleged irregularities relating to a land distribution project at Lamtakong self-build estate in Pak Chong district.
The project was set up to allocate land to people affected by the construction of Lamtakong dam.
Pol Col Prawet said that many of the people who have secured ownership of land failed to meet project criteria, which specifies the land is intended only for local residents affected by the construction of the dam and poor farmers.
Pol Col Prawet said initial checks had found many politicians, civil servants and businessmen had registered as members of the community cooperative, which entitled them to own land under the distribution scheme.
The PACC is investigating land ownership documents issued between 2008 and 2001 which show that many of those who secured land ownership rights were well-known figures.
One of them is the owner of a golf course, despite him lacking any of the qualifications needed to receive land allocation, Pol Col Prawet said.
He added that the PACC is also gathering evidence to prosecute state officials who approved false qualifications submitted by people not entitled to land distribution.
He said the PACC also found that some government officials had clearly specified their ranks in application forms seeking membership of the community cooperative.
The PACC had already written to ask the Department of Cooperative Promotion to investigate the matter, but no progress has yet been made, Pol Col Prawet said.
He also noted that more than 100,000 rai of land at the Lamtakong self-build community remains unallocated, despite the fact that construction of the dam was completed more than a decade ago.
Pol Col Prawet said this has raised concerns that the land distribution project has been plagued with problems right from the very start, because more land plots have been set aside for allocation than the actual number of people affected by the dam construction.
A PACC source said former PACC chief, Pol Col Dusadee Arayawuthi, had in the past sent inspectors to investigate complaints of land grabbing in the area.
Random checks found that most land owners had not been affected by the dam construction. There was only one farmer who settled and made use of land allocated under the project. Most other plots had been used for building houses on, the source said.
Lamtakong self-build estate covering 280,000 rai was set up on June 19, 1967.