Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

NA members push for compliant land allocation

Vientiane Times, 24 April 2018

http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_NA.php

VT for land management article

Compliance with land policies and implementation measures, along with the rights of people living nearby conservation, protection and production forests and other protected areas have been set for National Assembly discussion regarding the National Master Plan on Land Allocation.
The National Master Plan on Land Allocation draft was on the agenda of the Assembly members’ intersession which began yesterday, chaired by Assembly Vice President Somphanh Phengkhammy.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Sommad Pholsena introduced the latest updated draft of the master plan, which has been developed since 2007.
This draft has defined the principles for land allocation and complied with the National Land Policy along with the essential planning needs of national socio-economic development, and land planning by sectors and local authorities.
The developer of the master plan assessed that population growth and migration from rural to urban areas, infrastructure development, development of hydropower plants, mining projects, special economic zones, and other economic projects had both direct and indirect impacts on land allocation resulting in land use changes.
Agricultural land in Vientiane province has increased while it has decreased in the capital from encroachment by housing.
NA member for Savannakhet province, Dr Khampheuy Phanthachone sought measures to prevent land use changes, especially regarding rice farms, saying many fertile paddies had been transformed into industrial plant and guesthouse sites.
He also proposed enhanced forest protection measures to support the national target of forest coverage as he observed ineffective promotion of tree planting in the past.
The drafted masterplan has defined the policy to acknowledge traditional rights of people living in protected areas since the time of their ancestors. The acknowledgement of rights must be registered under legal conditions and regulations on protected area management.
An NA for Huaphan province mentioned the important contribution of protected areas to the country’s forest coverage, proposing that land be allocated to and occupied by the people who have been living in these areas for a long time.
An NA member for Khammuan province, Mr Thpphachanh Phoxay mentioned about the process of title deed issuance as an important part in land policy implementation but said there were obstacles for poor landholders who were asked for illegal payments by officials to process title deeds.
The requests by land survey personnel (in Thai baht, for around 50,000 baht or around 13 million kip per title deed) from landholders caused confusion in processing the deeds, according to Mr Thipphachanh.
He agreed with inspection measures for illegal land acquisition and use by individuals, entities, and organisations even though this would impact some influential people.
Mr Thipphachanh observed many people have 100 hectares of land, which he said contradicted the law.
He also agreed with approving rights for people living in protected areas but proposed the government give concrete instructions for the process.

Read relevant article: Land set to dominate National Assembly debate

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