Thursday, August 22, 2019

Network hardens its stance on Doi Suthep project after survey

Apr 11. 2018
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By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA
NISANART KANGWANWONG
THE NATION

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A SURVEY has suggested that the houses of 45 court officials, which are being constructed at the foot of Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep mountain, definitely encroach on forestland.

Following the survey by a public-private committee yesterday, the Network to Reclaim Doi Suthep Forest reaffirmed that constructions encroaching on forestland must be demolished to minimise environmental damage. 

On Tuesday, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha suggested that it was unlikely court officials would be using these buildings following the controversy and urged those who are opposed to the project to use the buildings for public purposes instead. 

“We want the forest back,” the network’s coordinator, Teerasak Rupsuwan, said yesterday. 

He said Chiang Mai people did not want to see any building in a forest zone.

“Users will only be cursed,” he said. 

He emphasised that it was necessary to rehabilitate the forest at the construction site fast otherwise rain would likely bring mud and soil to the Mae Chok dyke during the upcoming rainy season. 

“That dyke provides water to Chiang Mai residents. If soil and mud goes there, water may be spoiled,” he said. 

He believed Prayut would change his mind when he sees the controversial site with his own eyes and receives full information on the environmental impact.

Teerasak was speaking after he joined the public-private committee, set up by the Third Army Area chief Lt-General Wijak Siribansop on Monday, to survey the controversial location from outside the construction site. 

To date, the Court of Appeals Region 5, which acquired the plot for the construction from the government, has not yet approved the request for the committee to survey the construction site. 

“But even from the outside, locals can tell the constructions have encroached on forest zone,” Teerasak said. 

Meanwhile, an online campaign against court officials’ residences at the foot of Doi Suthep on Change.org has received more than 46,000 supporters. 

Launched by Dr Thanong Thongphubate, the campaign urged the Court of Appeals Region 5 to vacate the land. 

The court has maintained that it acquired the plot and the budget legally for the project.

Thanong’s campaign argues that, legality aside, the constructions at the current controversial site has hurt the landscape and ecology of Chiang Mai. 

“It’s not worth using land this way,” the campaign said. 

A Netizen, who signed his name in support of the campaign yesterday, said forests belonged to nature – not humans. 

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