The Agricultural Land Reform Office (Alro) is probing an allegation that ex-monk Sompong Nakhonthaisong spent 10 million baht to purchase 300 rai of Sor Por Kor (agricultural land reform) plots in violation of the law.
The allegation was made during a press briefing by Phantipha Sakunchai, also known as Jae Tim TV Pool. She cited 300 rai of land in Ban Mor Tak Jek and Ban Non Nang Noi in tambon Huay Yang of Chaiyaphum’s Khon San district.
Sor Por Kor plots are state-owned land and are allocated by Alro to poor and landless farmers for agricultural use.
The land plots cannot be sold or transferred by occupants, except to their heirs.
Mr Sompong responded to Ms Phantipha’s claim by saying he would happily return the land if he is found to be guilty of any wrongdoing, but that none of the plots are registered under his name.
Alro said it launched a fact-finding probe on Saturday.
Officials questioned local authorities and residents on the use of allocated land and learned that most of the disputed territory was not included in the land reform area, the agency said.
The initial probe found that only 7 rai was designated for land reform, but that it was still being used to farm crops, Alro said.
Meanwhile, Surachai Achalaboon, director-general of the Royal Forestry Department, said he has instructed the Forest Resource Management Office 8, which is responsible for forested areas in Chaiyaphum, to examine the area.
Rungnapa Phatthanawiboon, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the Wildlife Conservation Office also found the disputed land is outside the Phu Khiao Wildlife Conservation Area.
Citing a notice in the Royal Gazette published on July 10, 1973, Alro said the alleged Sor Por Kor land formerly belonged to Phu Sam Phaknam National Reserve Forest.
A royal decree later designated parts of some districts for land reform.