A government-appointed panel will visit Lee Peh island off Satun province on April 9-10 to try to work out a compromise settlement on land conflicts between the indigenous Le people and resort operators.
Admiral Surin Pikulthong, head of the panel, told Thai PBS that the conflicts stemmed from the issuance of land certificates by provincial land officials trespassing on the traditional land and even cemetery of the Le islanders or Sea Gypsies.
He said that the Le islanders have been living on their traditional land for over 100 years and they are now facing eviction from the new landowners who are mostly rich and powerful resort operators.
Although half of the island has been declared national park, it is dotted with hotels, resorts, restaurants and tour offices, he said, adding that land is scarce on the island and it now fetches between 10-20 million baht per rai.
About 300 families of the Sea Gypsies who have been evicted from their traditional land are now squeezed into narrow stripe sandwiched by resorts.
Mr Panapol Chivaserichon, the park chief, said that there were three influential land brokers who sold most of land on the island to resort developers and he suspected irregularity in the issuance of land certificates.
It was reported that one land certificate covers eight plots of land.
Meanwhile, some Sea Gypsies said they were forced to sell their land otherwise they safety might be in peril. cr. thaipbs