Thursday, August 22, 2019

Controversial court housing project may be moved out of Doi Suthep

Apr 05. 2018
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan
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By The Nation

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A controversial residential project for court officials in a Chiang Mai forestland is likely to be turned into an area for public use, with the trees felled to pave the way for construction replanted, deputy premier and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said on Thursday.

General Prawit said any further steps would follow the results of next Monday’s meeting of relevant state agencies regarding the matter.

There has been a dispute over the construction of summer residences for senior judges and court officials at the foot of the northern city’s Doi Suthep mountain. Local environmentalists are unhappy that the ongoing construction has allegedly appropriated Doi Suthep forestland, as the construction site is close to the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.

The project, built at a cost of Bt1 billion, includes nine homes for court presidents, 36 homes for chief justices, and 13 apartment buildings for court officials.

Prawit said on Thursday that the residential project was likely to be moved elsewhere and the current site turned into an area for public use. “The trees that were felled will be replaced to make it look like before,” he said. “It may be turned into a recreational area for the public.”

However, Prawit, who is in charge of the government’s security affairs, also noted that the construction site is not in a national forest. “The land plot is a state property and it has been obtained lawfully,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the relevant state agencies to find a solution that would be satisfactory to all parties involved, Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkumnerd said on Thursday. The PM said all parties – the Justice Ministry, construction contractors and local residents – deserve sympathy.

“The government wants to make everyone get what they expect in a good way. No problems should be created in society. And there must be no disputes,” the spokesman said, quoting the PM.

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