The Ministry of Transport is considering invoking Section 44 to fast-track land expropriation for the joint Thai-Japanese double-track railway. Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the Council of State, the government’s legal arm, was reviewing an amendment to the expropriation law.
Whether Section 44, which gives the government sweeping powers, should be applied depends on how far the law allows for commercial development in the project, which the Council of State is debating.
The amendment was sought after the Japan International Cooperation Agency, a key lender of the railroad project, asked the government if it could develop land along the Thai-Japanese railroad route for commercial purposes to attract investors. As a joint venture partner in the project, the Thai government would have to clear any legal obstacles if it agrees to the proposal.
The double-track lines are the Kanchanaburi-Bangkok-Chachoengsao-Aranyaprathet and the Bangkok-Chiang Mai routes.
Mr Arkhom, however, said the expropriation law currently does not permit the state to reclaim land for commercial purposes.
The ministry must forward the bill to the council for consideration first.
If the council agrees the law should be altered to allow for expropriation to serve a commercial purpose and Section 44 was applied, the bill would bypass the National Legislative Assembly and be enforced.
He said the ministry was now waiting for results from the council.
The bill, if enacted, will be applied to other state projects under the supervision of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand as well.
Mr Arkhom said a feasibility study of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai double-track route is being conducted and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Thai-Japanese rail project set to be fast tracked