Wat ‘needs time’ to explain wood stockpile
Wat Mettatham Phothiyan in Kanchanaburi province has asked for a 15-day extension to prepare documents to explain a large quantity of processed wood that authorities found in its compound early last month, raising suspicions of illegal logging.
This follows the December 7 discovery of 6,360 processed wood planks and 37 wood blocks worth Bt1 billion at the 242-rai Chinese Buddhist temple in Muang district.
A multi-agency team led by Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Phaya Sua Task Force chief Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn told the temple abbot to provide evidence to prove the legality of the planks within 30 days, or face legal action. The impounded wood planks and blocks were divided into six piles pending further inquiries.
Chaiwat said on Tuesday that the temple had produced some documents to explain the origins of the impounded wood, meaning they could clear some piles. However, the documents were insufficient and incomplete, and they were unable to clear the first and fourth batches of planks.
Temple representative Sompon Sathienrujikanon, authorised by the abbot, submitted a letter on Monday asking for postponement of the document-submission deadline for another 15 days. The authorities approved the request, saying it was fair given the amount of wood involved.
Chaiwat also said that the team had assigned a forestry official, Sikhapong Krajaejan, to present the wood checking and impounding records and other related documents to the Muang Kanchanaburi Police Station later this week.
The outcome of this case might affect the monastery’s application to join the department’s “Buddha Uthayan”, or Buddhist parks, project in protected forests.
Chaiwat said he would propose for its removal from the project, which aims to show that monasteries can coexist with nature, on the grounds that it had broken the conditions.