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Activist plans hunger strike over Doi Suthep project

Apr 25. 2018
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By The Nation

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An environmentalist will go on a hunger strike over the construction of court officials’ residences at the foot of Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep mountain.

Nikom Putta, who heads the Mae Ping River Conservation Group, said on Wednesday that court officials should not use houses and condo buildings that were built on the controversial site. 

“Let these buildings stand as monuments to the mistakes,” he said. 

He said he would stage a hunger strike and pray so as to encourage all sides to talk, admit that mistakes have occurred, and embrace a peaceful solution. 

Nikom spoke up after Chamnan Rawiwanpong, who previously headed the Court of Appeals Region 5 and now heads the Supreme Court’s Bankruptcy Division, suggested amid the stand-off that court officials should be allowed to use these structures for 10 years. 

Built at a budget of nearly Bt1 billion, the residences for court officials are now going up at the foot of Doi Suthep mountain. Environmentalists believe 45 houses and nine condo buildings – whose constructions are almost completed – have encroached on forestland.

The construction site, authorities have insisted, sits not in the forest zone but just next to the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. 

Nikom said while the courts might say the constructions were legal, they were not being fair. 

“How can the court clear forestland for its officials’ residences while people are prosecuted for encroachment?” he said. 

He said one should not accept what was maybe legal but unethical. 

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