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Nakhon Ratchasima Land Reform Scandal: Four Officials Arrested in Wastewater Dumping Case

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In a rather unexpected twist, a suspect in the much-debated land reform scandal was apprehended during what seemed like a routine morning exercise session at the Suranaree University of Technology, situated in Muang district, Nakhon Ratchasima, on a seemingly ordinary Thursday. (Photo: Prasit Tangprasert)

Four land reform officials found themselves in hot water as they were accused of illicitly issuing title deeds for an extensive 600 rai (a hefty 960,000 square meters) of land. This land, unfortunately, became infamous due to a factory’s illegal wastewater discharge in Nakhon Ratchasima. The arrests weren’t by chance; they were a result of meticulously planned raids that swept through 13 locations encompassing Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Udon Thani, all in the early hours of Thursday.

All individuals caught in this debacle had ties to the Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Land Reform Office. The caught officials were identified as the seasoned 56-year-old land reform official Akaradet Rianghin, 53-year-old legal affairs official Wilailak Butda, 54-year-old land surveyor Chokesak Maneechantra, and Preecha Praphanukul, a 61-year-old retired land surveyor.

In a revealing statement, Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, reported that the suspects connived to illegally grant agricultural land rights to 13 individuals masquerading as farmers. In reality, these parcels of land covertly served as repositories for wastewater secretly funneled out from a tapioca factory.

The contentious land lies in tambon Nong Bua Sala of Muang district, Nakhon Ratchasima. Officially, the Agricultural Land Reform Office is mandated to issue land rights documents to bona fide farmers intending to breathe life into dilapidated forest zones.

Delving deeper, the investigation unveiled a hurried and suspicious issuance of land rights, blatantly lacking essential official surveys and fraught with deceptive information. In a bizarre twist, some “farmers” weren’t tilling the land but clocking hours as factory workers.

Adding an intriguing layer to the saga, Thanadol Suwannarit, an advisor to the agriculture and cooperatives minister and a member of the raid entourage, disclosed that the said land plots had morphed into odorous ponds, serving as makeshift dumpsters for the factory’s wastewater.

To add a touch of dark irony, these plots were legally documented as algae-growing ponds. Alas, the truth stinks, quite literally, as these ponds, intended for a greener cause, bore the brunt of industrial waste. This could very well mark a turning point in land reform policies and their enforcement in the region.


  1. James A June 20, 2024

    This scandal is a clear example of how corruption can cripple essential reforms.

    • ecoWarrior22 June 20, 2024

      Corruption is everywhere! It’s not just in Thailand. Look at the EPA in the US.

      • Sarah L June 20, 2024

        It’s depressing but true. What’s the solution though?

      • James A June 20, 2024

        Transparency and stricter enforcement. But it’s easier said than done.

    • Maggie_T June 20, 2024

      It’s not just about enforcement, but also about changing the culture that allows these practices to thrive.

  2. Ricky June 20, 2024

    How did the factory get away with this for so long? This is insane!

    • Sam W June 20, 2024

      The system is clearly broken. If such things are happening under the radar, what else are we missing?

    • LucyB June 20, 2024

      Probably because they had the right connections. Money talks.

    • Ricky June 20, 2024

      True, but at what cost to the environment and local communities? Disgusting.

  3. Hank June 20, 2024

    Wasn’t land reform supposed to help farmers? This seems like a complete betrayal of that mission.

    • PlantLover June 20, 2024

      Agreed, it’s ridiculous. The real farmers suffer while corrupt officials profit.

      • Hank June 20, 2024

        Exactly. This needs to be a wake-up call for stricter oversight.

  4. Grace June 20, 2024

    Just shows how corrupted governance can lead to environmental disasters.

  5. Kirt 12 June 20, 2024

    And people wonder why the average person has no faith in government institutions anymore.

  6. Amy T June 20, 2024

    It’s amazing how these things come to light so randomly. Who knows what else is hidden!

    • LucyB June 20, 2024

      Exactly, it’s terrifying to think about.

  7. Alan V June 20, 2024

    What’s needed is a complete overhaul of the land reform office. Can’t trust anyone there.

    • Grower123 June 20, 2024

      That’s drastic, but I get your point. The system needs to be thoroughly vetted.

  8. Nigel June 20, 2024

    And this is why environmental regulations matter. Wastewater dumping causes severe damage.

  9. Derek Brown June 20, 2024

    A lot of people still think environmental laws are just ‘red tape.’ Maybe they should visit those algae ponds.

  10. Jonny June 20, 2024

    It’s funny how they tried to pass off poisoned algae ponds for legit algae-growing ones. Who could be that naive to believe it?

  11. Nina June 20, 2024

    It’s not naïveté, it’s corruption. There’s a big difference.

  12. Wesley J June 20, 2024

    I feel sorry for the genuine farmers who are losing out because of these crooks.

  13. Eve V June 20, 2024

    I hope they get severe punishments. The environment and people’s livelihoods are at risk here.

  14. Leo June 20, 2024

    Corruption seems to be a global epidemic. We need international watchdogs.

    • Ella M June 20, 2024

      Nice idea in theory, but international bodies often have their own issues with corruption.

  15. AngryCitizen June 20, 2024

    The people involved in this scandal should be barred from public office forever.

  16. FarmerJohn June 20, 2024

    Real farmers are struggling, and these ‘fake farmers’ are getting land for dumping waste. Outrageous!

  17. EarthLover June 20, 2024

    Industrial waste is a huge issue, and we barely scratch the surface in news.

  18. Rachel M June 20, 2024

    I can’t believe it took so long to uncover this. What were the regulators even doing?

  19. Tommy June 20, 2024

    Shocking! The entire system is rigged. Who’s gonna clean up the mess now?

    • Sarah L June 20, 2024

      The taxpayers, unfortunately. We always end up paying for such scandals.

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