By NISANART KANGWALWONG
THE Chiang Mai-based Appeals Court Region 5’s project to construct court office buildings and housing for officials to live in on a 147-rai (23.5 hectares) plot near the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is legal, Appeals Court Region 5 president Udom Sitthiwi
Udom’s comment was made in response to the publication of pictures that show construction related to the project to be close to the national park, resulting in criticism on social media.
He also warned that continuing to post comments online or sharing comments online that are deemed to tarnish the reputation of the Appeals Court Region 5 could result in lawsuits.
Udom told the press that the Courts of Justice had over a decade ago received permission to use the state-owned land, originally occupied by the 33rd Military Circle, to build office buildings for several courts as well as 47 houses and 13 residential buildings.
He said the project had received a Bt900-million budget in 2013, and construction began in 2014 with attempts to minimise the impact on the surrounding green environment.
Construction of the office buildings had progressed 85 per cent and are expected to be in use late this year while the housing units are slated for completion next year, he said.
He said the project would provide convenience to the public when contacting courts and reduce the state’s budgetary burden for subsidising rents for officials.
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park chief Amporn Panmongkol said the project had not encroached on the park and was on state-owned land permitted for the Chiang Mai Provincial Court’s use. The project’s area had been checked many times and it was located on Treasury Department land.
Chiang Mai’s Regional Treasury Office head Yongyuth Ruang-patarakul confirmed that his agency owned the land and the court had obtained permission from the Army, as the original occupant since 2004, to use it. He said the agency was checking related documents for further clarification.
An environmental activist source in Chiang Mai commented that the public was concerned about the issue but before anyone created a movement calling for justice they should determine if the project had encroached on the national park.